Tuesday, April 19, 2005

      Does In-house IT Projects Really Saves Money?

Came across this posting in a forum, and I like to quote it here; for reasons that this situation seems all too familiar, and frequently recurring.

Employers think that having inhouse solutions saves money (from upfront procurement and licensing), because they think they can use their inhouse developers to do it -- "for free". However, they always fail to realise that the project time required, will take the developers away from the core business that company is developing. They also see software development as an end in itself, failing to see the recurring maintenance, and support related costs. Not to mention performance metrics that are more intangible, like quality of software and rate of bugs. All these are hidden cost that are usually not considered, sadly.

I mean, think about it; if your one-man developer can produce a software as good as what professional software houses, then how do those software vendors survive in the first place?

Being able to write a few lines of programming codes DOES NOT equal to being able to produce software as a product.

Posting from originator:
I've been working as a one person IT team doing network and database management for a small company of 110 users for about a year and half now. My previous experience was similar but in a very junior role. I have been given a task by my director to come with our own specialised cti (computer telephony)integrated software that could save the company tens of thousands in licensing costs. The problem here is that being a one man band I've come to realise that by taking this task on I'm stretching myself thin. I've made good progress so far in learning how to program in c# plus my previous database knowledge. My question to you all is:how do I get this software built without having to contract or hire another developer because that would leave me back in square one and lose the oppurtunity for a bonus by building this app? I'm aware that it is possible to outsource development projects or certain aspects of them but what are the implications on cost effectiviness and overall quality of the projects?

A reply (What's your business plan?):
I have come across this so often as an employer and a
consultant that I can almost write this in my sleep.

"Hey, we could save ourselves thousands/tens of thousands/
millions of dollars by getting one of our IT guys to write our
inhouse stuff in his odd five minutes of spare time. Shouldn't
take him more than a couple of weeks . . ."

1. Are the benefits proven?
2. Is the company prepared to invest money to achieve them?
3. How reliable are the development plans?
4. What are the user acceptance criteria?
5. Who will provide full documentation for on-going support in
your absence?

Just five questions out of a thousand. If your product doesn't
work and continue to work to the same supported standards of
what the company is now spending tens of thousands on then
you will be blamed. Get them to treat this exactly as if it were
an external procurement so that you know precisely what it is
you are expected to provide. Do not muddle on dazzled by the
prospect of the bonus in the middle distance, because it will
remain in the middle distance unless you have a firm schedule to
secure it. If you don't, I guarantee that on the day you hand over
what you think to be the finished product, you will have twice
the work you have put in to that date to get it just like they want
it. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


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