Choosing A Software Application Resource

Choosing A Software Application Resource



Choosing a​ software application resource
Use the​ right tool for the​ job is​ a​ good motto for software sourcing .​
There are several options for software sourcing these days .​
In-house development,​ software packages,​ domestic outsourcing,​ offshore outsourcing,​ and application service providers (ASPs) are all possible sources for software applications .​
All have their place in​ a​ software sourcing strategy .​
But they are not all equally suited to​ all tasks .​
Industry experience shows that in-house development and purchased software packages are the​ pillars of​ software sourcing .​
The rest are niche solutions .​
Results from my company's latest survey,​ Strategic Trends in​ Information Technology,​ show that 50% of​ existing production applications were delivered by in-house development,​ 46% by purchased packages,​ 3% by domestic outsourcing,​ almost 1% by ASPs,​ and less than 1% by offshore outsourcing.
These results surprise many people who see them .​
All of​ the​ attention lavished on​ outsourcing and ASPs has given most people the​ impression that there has been a​ stampede to​ those sources .​
The reality is​ that the​ outsourcing and ASP markets continue to​ grow but their contribution to​ the​ total base of​ installed software is​ small .​
In-house development and purchased software packages are the​ leading software sources for good reason .​
At the​ top of​ the​ list is​ commitment .​
Employees know that their success depends on​ corporate success .​
They know they need to​ deliver the​ application to​ support the​ company-and they are emotionally committed to​ doing so .​
There is​ no substitute for this intimate connection between project success and personal success .​
Even projects that use contractors or​ other outsiders get the​ benefit of​ this commitment as​ long as​ responsibility for project success remains within the​ company.
Company knowledge is​ another powerful element of​ internal projects .​
Employees know a​ lot about the​ company .​
They know the​ products and they know how the​ company operates .​
Most importantly,​ they understand company culture .​
They understand it​ because they are part of​ it .​
Not only does this help get things done,​ it​ also helps determine what is​ important and what's not.
Physical proximity is​ another asset of​ most internal projects .​
Developers and users are close enough to​ each other to​ have regular face-to-face meetings .​
And they often have informal contact too-the classic coffee-pot bull-session,​ for example .​
All of​ this promotes better personal relationships that,​ in​ turn,​ promote better project results .​
Internal projects have a​ lot going for them .​
It's no wonder that so much software has been delivered that way.
So what is​ the​ big argument in​ favor of​ outsourcing and ASPs over in-house development and purchased packages?
Cost,​ less financial cost .​
Quality,​ time to​ market,​ and other arguments are sometimes made,​ too,​ but day in​ and day out,​ the​ big argument in​ favor of​ outsourcing and ASPs is​ cost.
Cost is​ a​ powerful argument,​ but before any financial benefit is​ realized outsourcing and ASPs have to​ overcome major obstacles .​
The obstacles they face are exactly contrary to​ the​ strengths of​ internal projects.
Instead of​ employee dedication,​ we have the​ vendor's dedication to​ making a​ profit .​
Not an​ insignificant factor to​ be sure,​ but not the​ same as​ an​ employee's personal interest in​ project success.
All company knowledge that is​ important to​ the​ project,​ both factual and cultural,​ must be transferred from employees to​ the​ vendor .​
The more complex or​ unusual the​ application,​ the​ more difficult it​ becomes to​ transfer all knowledge.
The vendor is​ not part of​ the​ culture .​
The vendor is​ always an​ outsider,​ at​ least to​ some extent .​
This makes it​ difficult for the​ vendor to​ know the​ subtleties that can make the​ difference between success and failure .​
It can even make it​ difficult to​ communicate less-subtle knowledge.
Distance makes regular face-to-face meetings between developers and users rare on​ many outsourced projects .​
On some offshore outsourcing projects there may be no such meetings .​
a​ representative of​ the​ outsourcer meets with company representatives and relays information to​ developers,​ who remain offshore .​
Distance also complicates simple communication like phone calls,​ when team members have to​ struggle with eight-,​ ten-,​ or​ twelve-hour time differences.
All of​ these things can be overcome,​ or​ at​ least managed,​ but external projects have trouble competing directly with internal projects .​
The implication of​ this is​ that internal and external projects are not suited for the​ same types of​ projects .​
The more commodity-like the​ project the​ better suited it​ is​ for external development .​
The more unique-which usually means the​ more critical to​ corporate success-the better suited it​ is​ for internal development .​
This can also be applied within a​ large project by contracting out for the​ simple functions and using internal development for the​ subtle or​ complex functions.
If there is​ any trick to​ software sourcing,​ it​ is​ to​ ignore the​ hype and focus on​ the​ job at​ hand .​
Then it's just a​ matter of​ using the​ right tool for the​ job.




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