Software Packages and their reports

Why do software packages have limited number of reports? ¬†As mentioned in my previous article, there are many reasons as to why off the shelf software packages come with only a limited range of reports. I’ll first illustrate this problem with an example and then explain why this is the case.

A business associate of mine recently complained that the software package he uses for his business doesn’t give him enough information to identify some of the accounts receivable issues he’s been having. He wanted to be able to run a report and immediately see which of his clients are at risk of missing their payments, but there was no pre-defined report that met this requirement.

Based on my experience, the most common reasons for this are:

  1. Software development companies create what they consider to be the most important reports and await feedback from customers prior to investing in the development of more reports.
  2. By providing a limited number of reports, software development companies keep the development cost of the software package at a reasonable level. By doing so, the product can be priced at reasonable level which would attract buyers.
  3. For software development companies it can also be an additional source of future revenue should customers wish to modify their software package or reports to suit the individual circumstances.
  4. As long as a software application does its job of capturing important information, there are a myriad of reporting tools that customers could use to develop their own reports. Some software companies take the view of ‘why bother providing reports when customers would not use them?’ This probably comes down to lack of consultation with potential clients prior to developing the software.
  5. Customers can be fussy about how they want their reports to look. By providing in-built reporting tools with their software, some software development companies make it easy and cost effective for their customers to create and/or customise reports to suit their needs.

The problem that my business associate had in the scenario I described above was not the software package, but the fact that he did not realise what he could do with his software. The software package provided him with all the tools he needed to generate his own reports! This seems to be another common problem when people buy off the shelf software packages – they don’t explore the features in the software for the fear of breaking something!

Do you know of any additional reasons that can be added to this list or of any further examples that can be shared with other readers?