Buying software products and services is a tricky business. They are expensive and the sales process is full of pitfalls. Because of this, for many years, I had been on something of a mission to reeducate new users to our industry on certain industry terms. In a recent discussion with someone in our industry, I finally realized that reeducation doesn’t work. Banning the words would be the one way to affect change.
My classic problem words were “customization” and “configuration.” The problem I’ve always had with these words is that buyers sometimes believe “configuration” to mean “clicking on a few buttons” where our industry tends to use it to describe lots of programming. Our industry tends to use “customization” to define software that is written from-scratch. However, even what we call COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) software tends to require quite a lot of programming, in many cases. Let us just stop using the words “configuration” and “customization.”
Next, I really do despise the term “turnkey.” There is no such thing as a turnkey system. There never has been and there never will be. Every piece of software you purchase needs your time and attention. Period. So, let’s stop using this dirtiest of all software words.
On the other hand, it’s the people who misuse these terms who will not stop using them. Without their cooperation, it remains a problem for new buyers. As usual, “caveat emptor” (buyer beware).
Still, I’d be glad to hear what words you think are totally misused, overused, not properly descriptive of what they are, or otherwise needing banning just to keep us all both sane and honest.