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Running to stand still

Is it getting better

What Andy said. I've never been busier and I'm not about to complain about it. Most people I know in software have never been busier. Make no mistake it's a tougher market now. The work is there. However it's all fixed price, the deadlines are highly compressed, and the customer changes her mind with impunity. There is plenty of room for the smart and the efficient, who push hard make things happen, and can ship the good stuff.

One of the interesting thing about being too busy in a recession is maintaining quality of work.

We're at polar opposite of the situation during the bubble. 3 years ago quality went out the door because the industry realized it could dictate terms utterly and didn't have to worry about doing good work - just where was the customer going to go to get the good work from anyway? Today quality can be argued away because margins are tight and people can't expend the effort to do good work. The temptation is there now to ship low grade work, because it is all fixed price, because the licence revenues are plummenting or non-existent, because you can't churn your customer base and because you are working damn hard to make margins. How can we possibly produce good work when we're running to stand still?

It's always tempting to sacrifice quality at the economic extremes.

This is a mistake. A death spiral. I think it's never been more important to ship high grade work, because I'm convinced in this market you have to leverage quality as a compettitive weapon for you and your customers. Quality needs to go through the roof. The real job in this market is not educating customers that they can use IT to save money, but that thet have the chance, right now, to get the best quality of implementation around the best organisational principles for adaptable, long-lived systems, if they are willing to work with organizations and people, like yours, who care about doing the good work and will not mess them around. This is what we do at Propylon. Thoughtworks, Atlassian, IntelliJ, Orion, Zope to name just a few are thriving on quality. I bet Andy Oliver's refferals go to people he trusts to do the right thing by him and the customer. Crosby and Deming are right - quality is free and will pay for itself over and over. How to produce quality software at speed is not a mystery - look to open source, XP/IXP, Agile RUP for process styles which get results. All this will pressurize business models or processes based on upfront requirements, change control, solutions sets driven by licensing revenue, or deliverables that aren't working software. That's 90% of services and systems integrators and the product companies that supply them, right there.

The best way to make it better is to make it better.

June 28, 2003 09:34 PM


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