Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cost

Software technology, like any technology, provides a means to solving problems.  Some big. Some small.  Some that help.  Some that hurt.  And as with all tools, they come with a price.  Some big.  Some small.  Some obvious.  Some obfuscated.

Let's itemize, shall we?

  • Licensing
  • Tracking
  • Reporting
  • Installing
  • Customizing
  • Consulting
  • Updating
  • Upgrading
  • Reassigning
  • Removing
  • Supporting
  • Training
  • Managing
  • Securing
  • Hosting
  • Deploying
Each of these breaks down into yet more costs.  Some obvious.  Some not so obvious.  And within the small slice of software technology that involves "customizing", it breaks down into an entire ecosystemical world of its own.

Let's itemize, shall we?
  • Assessment (requirements)
  • Analysis
  • Functional Design
  • Hierarchical Design
  • Interface Design
  • Role-Based Access Design
  • Build
  • Test
  • Alpha
  • Refine
  • Redesign
  • Refactor
  • Beta
  • Pilot
  • Fit and Finish
  • Release
  • Update
  • Upgrade
  • Retire
Depending upon the nature of the application, any one of the first set can shift weight onto a different item.  For example: Managing.  Content Management Systems are a common example.  Some might lean more on consulting or training, such as SAP.  Some might lean more on securing, such as Internet-facing web services.

Ultimately, for every cost they solve, they add another cost elsewhere.  Just as the shift from classic typewriters to computer-based word processors saved costs in one place (typewriter supplies, repair costs, speed, physical storage), they added more in others (printers, networking, paper, ink and toner, disk storage).  Obviously, nothing is really "free".  That's not to say that the new costs equal the old costs.  But before you sign your name on a proposed shift in technology, make sure you know where the money will flow.  You might be surprised what you discover.

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