Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Motivation

This year, for the A to Z Blogging Challenge I'm posting alphabetically on topics related to software development...

Last time, I talked about laziness as a personal motivation for doing a good job. Now I'm looking at another motivation for promoting good software that business should, but often don't, pay enough attention to.

Poor software costs money!

My department was building, module by module, an enterprise system. One of our departments had need of a system to manage electrical contracting work. We gave them a rough estimate for a simple system of $50k, which was basically our staff time at cost. This was in the days when that would get you a substantial amount of work for $50k.

"Too expensive," they said. A vendor dangled a baited hook in front of their eyes. They bit. "We can get a system that does everything we need for just $20k."

Long story short, the $20k soon ballooned into $100k once they took all the hardware into account, plus contract services to add in the bits that they needed that the system didn't do. And we spent the original $50k in our own time anyway, on interfaces to link them into the customer data and corporate billing system.

And the system still didn't work.

They spent months, and many sleepless nights in sheer frustration trying to get a problematic, bug-ridden system to do even the basics. They couldn't track work or invoice accurately. They lost business.

Eventually we had a window in our development schedule to help them out of this nightmare. Three months (and the promised $50k) later, they had a system that worked, integrated seamlessly, and did what they needed.

The difference?

We were motivated to tell the truth in the first place, and to do a good job.

The original vendor had no motivation to do either. Being economical with the truth got them the work in the first place, and they were only interested in screwing what they could out of the one-off installation, not in a long term business relationship.

Motivation, for good or for ill, is a powerful beast.


  1. I think a lot of our financial woes come down knowing it's too good to be true, but hoping it is anyway. Human nature, I guess.

    Moody Writing

  2. You get what you pay for in this world...Want a cheap system? It's out there and it's cheap.

  3. I think this is a reflection on so many things in life beyond software. You get out what you put in.

    Visiting from AtoZ

  4. I'm so feeling the pain of neglect at times. I agree wholeheartedly with this post. I hope you don't mind my sharing a post with you, but years ago, it was one of my first posts and it about sums up how I feel when it comes to out-sourcing.

    What people don't understand, we software developers actually enjoy our work. We WANT to do those projects. We WANT those challenges. If you invest in our time and we're learning, that means you benefit more in the future. People and their knowledge are investments, they are resources to be utilized.

    This is a sore subject for me if you can't tell it.


  5. mood, sadly I think that is inherent in human nature. Why do all those "get rich quick" scams keep on working?

    Delores, and sometimes "cheap" is OK, but you'd better be sure of it.

    Rhonda, exactly.

    Diane, the link is broken but I found it anyway. Good post, and oddly enough I have an upcoming post on a similar theme later this month.

    1. Yay! :)

      I love reading posts about stuff I experience at work, not just with my writing.

  6. I can't even imagine putting that much money into what sounds like a huge headache.

  7. Cheap is pointless if it is not fit for purpose. Interesting post.


I love comments. Please feel free to join in the discussion.

I also try to respond to comments. I usually do so during the early evening (Pacific time) which may be many hours away from now!

So if you leave a comment and return some time later and I haven't responded yet, please don't think I'm ignoring you. I'm not. Honest.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...