When you work in what I call a "controlled environment" it is kind of easy to be dragged into compromises in different areas of quality of your products. As with many other things it does not necessarily happen because you want to compromise, but simply because you can do that. There are many implicit myths about controlled environments. Here are just a few:
- In controlled environments users have to use your software and therefore you can compromise on usability and user experience. After all users to not have alternatives to in-house corporate software tools.
- In controlled environments users have to use your software and therefore you can compromise on performance tuning. After all users to not have alternatives to your software.
- In controlled environments it is ok to provide something "good enough" software simply because all the other corporate software users have got on their computers is crap.
None of that is actually true nowadays. Every corporate user also uses GMail for his personal e-mail. Every corporate user also uses Mint.com to manage his personal finances. Every corporate user also uses Flickr to organize his photos.
We all know that expectations are set by previous experiences, especially, when it comes to non-functional requirements and qualities, which are hard to quantify, like usability. Users have already seen what is possible in other apps and they want to be able to get to the information managed by your apps in a matter of a few keystrokes, like in GMail. They want your apps to produce relevant and nicely looking reports, like on Mint.com. They want easy access to functions they need while focusing on the main thing they do, like with Flickr.
When developing corporate app you compete with Google, Intuit, Yahoo. In modern world you do not have benefit of controlled environment and you have to compete for users' attention and buy in. These days the best recognition for corporate software engineer would be when user while working with custom corporate software system says "Wow! I wish GMail had this too..."