We Don’t Do Software

Written on September 1st, 2010 by

I recently read this article on the need for non-software companies to recognize the impact of their internal software development. It reminded me a lot of where I work. The general culture at my workplace says, “We are in the x business. We don’t do software.” The idea being we buy software at every opportunity and only resort to developing it when we have no other options. The result is a lot of money thrown at very expensive software packages which hardly do what we want after we fight with for a year. There has been a recent move towards using open source software over in-house software, but it still suffers from the same problem. The result is we do not apply as much emphasis on developing our software development environment as we should. Afterall, why bother modernizing if you only write a handful of apps never intended to see the light of day?

The refusal to address our software problems is only making matters worse. While commercial products often do meet our basic infrastructure needs, they do not and cannot come close to making us a successful business. The result is we implement the software closest to the core of our brand in-house. As time goes on, we continue to build applications on top of past applications. However, many of our past applications are outdated or were quite possibly outdated the day they were created. We continue to incur debt. Quite frankly, we are falling behind. Old applications need renovated. Current applications need modified. New applications need developed. All the while, we use yesterday’s practices because we do not have extra time to learn modern techniques.

Nearly every business today does software. Particularly if a business provides online services or makes transactions, it needs to consider itself in the software industry. Take a look at a company’s income and see how it aligns with spending on development resources. If a large percentage of revenue comes from areas supported by in-house developers, this is a good suggestion the company is in the software business. They need to put effort into improving and supporting their development efforts because otherwise their software debt will consume company expenses.

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