Why software is a lot like pasta

By Matthew Borland | Sales Director | Magenta Technology

If you’ve had the fortune, like many, to have experienced pasta made in a quaint restaurant off the beaten track in the Italian countryside, you’ll appreciate that sometimes the best things in life are often the simplest. Food cooked by an unassuming expert, consisting of just a few key ingredients and served in a simple, unfussy way, is almost impossible to beat. Having benefitted from a similar experience recently, I realised that sometimes the best things in life really aren’t those that are the most complex or consist of a long list of ingredients. However, without question, the quality of the ingredients is directly linked to the overall impact of the dish.

And wandering back down a gothic, dimly lit backstreet peppered with graffiti, it occurred to me that the same applies to software. Whilst many of us measure the quality of software by its complexity or the amount of functionality held within it, the truth is that, more often than not, we’re missing the point. Software’s value is actually how it brings value to a business rather than how many features it has. Think about it. Would you rather use software which is complex and functionally rich but which fails to deliver the same results as an alternative product with fewer functions that work better?

It seems to me that the key to any good recipe is the use of the best possible quality ingredients – the strengths of the individual ingredients means that fewer elements are needed. The same definitely applies to software. If the main components are as advanced and as powerful as they can possibly be, it allows the system design to be less complex, systems to be more user friendly, achieve better results and ultimately deliver greater value. Better design and better quality components negate the need for peripheral functionality which needs to address the failings of the core component they support.

Take the ‘autonomic’ brain at the heart of our allocation engine in our dispatch and operations platform ‘Echo’. It’s so advanced in its design and architecture that it does away with the concept of plots and zones, an idea originally designed to support private hire operations before the advent of computer dispatch systems.  Many of today’s traditional dispatch systems have just taken the zone/queue concept and recreated it – we’ve thrown the rule book out of the window and as a result, have rustled up a new recipe that we’re serving to the marketplace.

So, when it’s time to assess your existing software provider or consider replacing your dispatch system, think back to some of the best food you’ve ever eaten and consider the reason it tasted so good. It might help you select your next software vendor.

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