His predicament is quite common in that we probably only ever need perhaps 20% or 30% of the capabilities of a software program to achieve our goals. Sometimes the amount of functionality available within a desktop GIS, which is there to meet as many eventualities as feasible, can seem overwhelming to the casual user. I define the casual user as someone who uses GIS in the performance of their employment on say a weekly or monthly basis. Such casual users can be put off if the GIS seems complicated to use. Unlike some personal computer software I do not believe GIS desktop systems have yet reached the stage where they are intuitive. Unless you are given some fundamental training in what a GIS can do in a particular scenario the casual user will struggle and probably give up. Unfortunately many organisations have GIS systems which are being under utilised because not enough people are aware of the potential of these systems. Training on a particular application may consist of merely showing someone how the software works in a fifteen or twenty minute demonstration. Of course this may cover how to do a particular task such as print a map or perform a query. However the user of the software would not be able to perform other tasks because of a lack of understanding of how the software functions.
So back to the headache conundrum. If your choice of headache tablet prior to reading this was driven by clever advertising and not by hard evidence could you also be missing out on the potential of open source software like Quantum GIS? Through assuming that because it is free it cannot be as effective as the proprietary offerings may lead you to missing out on a viable alternative to such systems. Well, evaluating Quantum GIS is a cost free option and a worthwhile exercise as it could enable your organisation to extend the use of GIS to departments that currently cannot justify having a budget for a proprietary GIS.