I recently had a conversation with a vendor about a particular feature in their product:

Me: “So you just added XZY to the product?”
Them: “Yep.”
Me: “You know that no one uses it.”
Them: “Yep.”
Me: “But it’s on all the RFPs, isn’t it?”
Them: “Yep.”

I hear this scenario time and time again. Users ask for features they will never really use in RFPs, simply because they saw it on a competitor’s marketing brochure, or because “it sounds like it could be cool.” The vendors are then forced to either build it in, or just have their sales folks lie about it (it isn’t like you’ll notice).

And then users complain about how bloated the products are.

This is a vicious, abusive loop of a relationship. It usually starts when one VERY LARGE client asks for something (which they may or may not use), or a VERY LARGE potential partner asks for some interoperability. It never works right because no one really tests it outside the lab, and almost no one uses it anyway. But it’s on every damn RFP so all the other vendors sigh in frustration and mock up their own versions.

My favorite is DLP/DRM integration. Sure, I’m a firm believer that someday it will be extremely useful. But right now? A bunch of management dudes are throwing it into every RFP, probably after reading something from Jericho, and I’m not sure I know of a single production deployment.

Tired of bloat in your products? Ask for what you need and then buy it. Stop building RFPs with cut and paste. Don’t order the 7 course meal when you only want PB&J. A nice, fulfilling, yummy PB&J that gets the job done.

(No, this doesn’t excuse vendors when the important stuff doesn’t work, but seriously… if you’re going to bitch about bloat, stop demanding it!)