By R. Christopher Haines, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer

You can have it fast, or you can have it good. But you can’t have it both ways.*

Welcome to the word of unrealistic expectations:

I need something very complex, and I need it yesterday. Or I want to make a change to the way something has always worked, but I don’t want to take the time to explain it clearly or properly. I want you to read between the lines and make it work exactly the way I want it to work. Sounds reasonable, right?

That’s the world of software. I really don’t envy software development companies. They’re on the short end of the fact that, as a society, we’ve become spoiled. We have immediate access to anything we want to know on our phones. Amazon delivers most things in two days, or even hours on some items. Things that took hours now take minutes, and things that took weeks now take just days. But complex software is … well … complex.

We all know you can have a website up and running, in some instances, in under an hour. But that same expectation isn’t very realistic for something like an insurance policy administration system. No matter. People still have the kinds of expectations when it comes to these systems.

Here are a few things to think about if you’re a novice to insurance technology. First, insurance is a regulated industry. So there are rules, regulations, laws, and such that dictate most operations. I don’t care how modern and sexy your new company is, you have to prove to the regulators that things like testing were done before changes go into a production system.

Second, customer experience is important, right? Don’t you want your customers’ interactions with your system to be as trouble-free as possible? Do you think this happens by accident? No matter how good a vendor is, systems need to be tested. And by tested, I mean a pretty heavy amount. We’ve somehow ended up in an era in which buggy software is supposed to be acceptable. Apps and software come out filled with issues just to make their release dates, and then all these little bug fix releases come out every couple of days like that should somehow be the norm. Why?

I understand time is of the essence, and speed to market is sometimes king. But sometimes speed kills. And when it comes to the software-testing game, better ahead than dead.

* This is a derivation of the Good, Fast, and Cheap Rule, which states this: While everyone wants everything good, fast, and cheap, you can get just two out of three: Good and fast, but it won’t be cheap. Good and cheap, but it won’t be fast. Cheap and fast, but it won’t be good.