The joys of tax time + a lesson

Tax by definition By alancleaver_2000 on flickrI’ve spent the few weeks working on my taxes. Fun Fun, right?

It’s actually not too bad to be honest…our tax situation isn’t too terribly convoluted but is getting more difficult to myself.

In the past, Tracie and I had very little activity outside our jobs but with her photography business doing so well  and my renewed investment activity, our taxes are getting a bit tougher to do.  This might be the last year I actually do my own taxes…we’ll see how it goes 🙂

What I find so interesting these days is the various tax preparation services & companies and the amount of information they provide to help during tax preparation.  For example H&R Block, the tax e-file service I’m using, provides all sorts of information, pointers and tips for filling out the tax form(s).  There are tons of FAQ’s, a search engine and even the ability to ask ‘tax experts’ questions. They even provide assistance for customers who get audited in the future.

While I’m extremely excited that H&R Block provides all the assistance I’ve mentioned, there’s an underlying lesson for for those of us in IT.

That lesson?

Think about it…what do we do in IT?  We role out technology and software for our ‘customers’ to use. But…do we provide as much help in that technology / software’s usage as H&R Block has provided?

Do we have ‘experts’ available to answer questions?  I guess we do if you consider the Help Desk as experts…..sure….the folks on the Help Desk can help and some ARE experts but do we make it an organizational imperative to make sure there are experts around to help users?

Do we have assistance for those users who get in trouble after a few months of use?  Do we just tell them to read the help file or do we sit down with them and really help them?

We can learn a lot from H&R Block’s software…we can learn that there are ways to make software & technology more usable and user friendly.  We can learn to help users much more than just providing a help file.

Sure…tax software providers have to provide a lot of help because the subject is so difficult to understand….but to some users, the new Intranet portal is just as difficult to understand, don’t you think?

Photo Credit: Tax by definition By alancleaver_2000 on flickr

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Steve WileySteveEric D. Brown Recent comment authors
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Excellent topic. I always try to make my software as intuitive as possible, but that’s definitely not enough. I think my new goal is to provide more built-in/context help.

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