Software, Work

Generating corporate welfare through enterprise software

It is always good to have someone on the inside and therefore service software companies often go to great lengths to woo potential champions within large organisations. That’s the way things are but there is an interesting phenomena that takes this too far and I call it “corporate welfare”.

Companies often like to tote how configurable and adaptable their software is. By using just a few web screens or maybe a set of configuration files you can make the software do whatever you want. How convenient! Or rather how convenient for the suppliers. How many of you have ever had a burning desire to tinker with your email system setup, or your bug tracker’s workflow or the permissions of your project management software.

Probably no-one except the product champion who argued for the software to be introduced in the first place. In fact the champion’s role in the company is now predicated on their expertise with the existing solution. What incentive do they have to replace or review “their” section of infrastructure? Their salary is now based on how effective their relationship is with their supplier.

In fact I don’t think it is uncommon for people changes to precede changes in software providers. Someone has to take over the champion’s job of massaging the product and without the massive personal commitment to it finds the job cumbersome and undesirable, sparking the search for solutions.

My argument would be that if you cannot primarily use a solution out of the box then you are better off not using it. If you have a business process that requires a lot of gnarly configuration and bespoke software work then the greater value is in simplifying the business process rather than recreating in software.

In my view complex or whitebox products are more about capturing customers than serving them and that goes from SAP down to JIRA.

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