Auburn SeeWolf

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They Never Pay for Themselves

There is no excuse for software that doesn’t pay for itself. It’s like any other business investment: it should either be a product that generates profit, a productivity tool that reduces cost, or it must generate enough good will or other intangible benefits to provide a return on investment.

 

A significant number of software projects fail to provide a return on investment. This is true for implementing off-the-shelf applications and developing custom applications. Some failed projects are started by companies that don’t have the staff with the skills and experience needed to get the job done. Some projects die from poor project management. Some take so long that the business needs have changed by the time they are done. Some take so long that the cost overruns and missed saving will never be recouped. There are lots of reasons, but all prevent a return on investment.

 

Every year or so there’s a new silver bullet. Every time it’s supposed to cure all the problems that cause these failures. Higher level languages, integrated development environments, object oriented programming, XML, and service oriented architectures are typical examples. In the off-the-shelf market, there’s always someone’s new application that is better than sliced bread, inexpensive, easy to tailor to your business, and guaranteed to be supported forever. We hate to be cynical, but we also have a bridge for sale…

 

Software applications can pay for themselves. Like any other business activity, they need to be planned and analyzed to ensure they are good business decisions. They need to be staffed by people who really understand the technology. They need to be managed by someone who has software implementation and development experience, and a proven track record. And they need to be supported throughout their useful life. Is this any different than buying a new machine for a production line, buying a new building, developing a new product, or any other business acquisition? When we are asked to help with troubled projects, the first thing we look at is basic project management, allocated resources, and planning. The problem is usually easy to spot.

 

Planning is not a four letter word. At Auburn SeeWolf we don’t believe in silver bullets. There’s only hard work being done by a qualified team, in a productive environment, with well thought out business goals. This leads to successful software projects that pay for themselves and provide a true return on investment.

 

Our next topic looks at stovepipes and data islands.

 

 

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