This piece from 2005, entitled “Why software sucks“, recently gained prominence once again.

I’m happy it did.

Two choice quotes from the piece, and then an editorial.

“The three things that make [software development] difficult are:

  1. Possessing the diverse skills needed not to suck.
  2. Understanding who you’re making the thing for.
  3. Orchestrating the interplay of skills, egos and constraints over the course of the time required to make the thing.”


“If you look deeper, you’ll find that when people say “this sucks” they mean one or more of the following:

  • This doesn’t do what I need
  • I can’t figure out how to do what I need
  • This is unnecessarily frustrating and complex
  • This breaks all the time
  • It’s so ugly I want to vomit just so I can see something prettier
  • It doesn’t map to my understanding of the universe
  • I’m thinking about the tool, instead of my work”


How much of what Scott Burkun wrote in 2005 applies to analytics program development today?

Quite a bit.

  • We’re desperately short on people with diverse skill sets. 
  • The general lack of understanding between the data needs of front line users versus top line decision makers continues to persist, though, it’s getting better through the executive mantra: “Be Brief, Be Brilliant, Be Gone!”
  • What time is there to orchestrate?

Looking at the seven bullet points above – how many of the causes of suckyness are caused by people? How many are caused by people causing technology to suck?

Does digital analytics suck because the underlining technology suck? Just how much responsibility rests with the digital analyst for that suckyness?

Solution set:

We can learn a lot from the mistakes and frameworks of software engineering.

Our problems might not be entirely unique.


I’m Christopher Berry.
I tweet about analytics @cjpberry
I write at

2 thoughts on “Does Anaytics Suck? Wisdom from 2005

  1. Matt Booher says:

    What a refreshing perspective! I’ve told numerous clients, building a dashboard is easy. What you choose to put on there is the hard part.

  2. What’s the trigger for the dashboard in those instances?

    It’s because they know they want a dashboard!


    It’s okay though. They’re asking. It’s up to us not to make it suck, right?

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