Book Review: Making the Software Business Case - Improvement by the Numbers
Making the Software Business Case - Improvement by the Numbers by Donald J. Reifer
This book bridges the technical, economical, social and political issues that surrounds the business of software. Reading this book makes me understand why many business people complain that 'IT people do not understand business'.
In teaching techies how to prepare compelling business case that makes senses to business executives, Reifer highlighted the various perspectives that are often overlooked by technical people. He rightly pointed out that many technical folks weight options largely based on technicalities, and failed to address issues that are of concern to successfully running a business (albeit a software business). Issues like cash flow, cost/benefits, taxation, capital budgeting, legal, market opportunities, company's strategic goals are all valid but often not considered. No wonder any recommendation made by techies are often rejected. We are not talking on the same wavelength!
Although not explicitly stated, this book also highlights the importance of networking and developing influencing skills as it is needed to address the myriad needs of many stakeholders involved.
- How do you get the sales data from marketing?
- How do you get financing and staff costing information from the accountants?
- How do you seek taxation and legal advises?
All the above information are required as part of the business case preparation.
- How do you get your initiative funded when there is no budget available for this year.
- Where are the other places that you can resourcefully draw funds from without making enemies?
- How to balance the needs of all the stakeholders when they are conflicting?
- How to ensure the needs are met so that development efforts are not wasted?
All these intricacies that forms part of office politics are inherent in justifying a compelling business case. Reifer succinctly highlighted real-life issues that manifest in the business of software. And they are not solely technical ones.
- How and where business case analyses fit into the software and IT life cycle process
- Explanations of the most common tools for business case analysis, such as present-value, return-on-investment, break-even, and cost/benefit calculation
- Tying the business process to the software development life cycle
- Packaging the business case for management consumption
- Frameworks and guidelines for justifying increased productivity, quality, and shorter time to market, and cost avoidance/savings strategies
- Case studies for applying appropriate decision situations to software process improvement
- Strategic guidelines and principles for various business case analyses
This book is highly recommended for anyone working in the software industry. Even if you do not participate in the process of preparing a business case; reading it opens your eyes to the wide-ranging issues that are outside techies' scope of considerations. Maybe it will just start your road towards being a more business-savvy technologist.