Doing it Wrong the First Time – Information Technology at Its Worst

For a short while I worked for one of Australia’s largest banks which trotted out the motto “DIRFT” – Do It Right First Time. In fact they went from one motto to another year in and year out, all intended to motivate people to do good work. Rework is both non-productive and wasteful of resources, so if people could only get their jobs right first time, it would save a lot of money and frustration.

I don’t know that the bank ever reached its goal of having people DIRFT, but it was certainly worth the effort. I still have the coffee cup with the motto emblazoned on the front and occasionally think about it.

Lately I’ve been thinking that there are many things I find that obviously follow the dictum, “Do It Wrong First Time”. Most of these things seem to be in the domain of the Information Technology industry.

For example, how many times have you wanted to submit a comment or log-on somewhere that has a scrambled script that you have to undecipher and type into a dialogue box, only to find that you can’t read it?

It’s not only a matter of mistaking an I for an l, sometimes the characters are so jumbled that you can’t read them … they are definitely not one of 52 variations of the 26 letters of the English alphabet or one of the usual ten figures. You enter it and the page refreshes just to tell you to do what you have already done. You fool!

So you try again and if it doesn’t work, move on to another site.

Then there’s the online forms where you go to enter a date, no mention of the format so you try: 24/03/2008 and submit. Seconds pass and the form appears with a message in red, “Date required”. So you enter 03/24/2008 and after several more attempts click the big red cross at the top right of your page and move on … didn’t want to buy that item anyway. How difficult would it be to enter a date format example? In fact many sites, the better ones, do.

Occasionally I begin entering an address online and when it comes to the state/province box, I drop down a list and every option is in the USA. But hey, I live in Australia, not Texas or Iowa. When you want to make a buck internationally, you have to expect people from other countries with different addresses. Provide some way of capturing them.

An Australian site recently wouldn’t accept my post code 0870 and kept flagging an error. All Australian post codes have four digits and the Northern Territory begins with zero. I’ve lived here since 1957 … I know the post code! Apparently the fool who created the form didn’t.

I was so annoyed I simply left the site. My view is that if you can’t get something as simple as that right, you don’t deserve my money.

Getting it Right

When the bank I mentioned above created a new program it did extensive User Acceptance Testing. It did everything imaginable to its software to see where it had shortcomings or errors that would annoy customers. It made everything goof proof.

When it was perfect, it would be released to the public. Why some other organisations don’t do that I don’t know.

It seems that people launch sites with the idea that if there is a problem, someone will let them know. That’s not a very good business philosophy.

If you really want to compete with the good players, Do It Right First Time.

Copyright 2008 Robin Henry