Monday, November 22, 2004

Build Versus Buy

Software development is an interesting thing, I love thinking about business processes and how technology can improve them. There is a great satisfaction to be found in studying business processes, and then designing software that helps to complete that process plan. It is interesting to note trends in IT, some fly in one day and are gone the next, others have a more lasting, permanent effect upon the way that we do business. I think that the trick for any manager would be to determine which technologies are cost-effective to develop, easy for the end user, and powerful enough to hold up in the competitive market place of today. Is the solution to buy third party products, or to develop in house? With the amount of information thrown at IT professionals today, how is it possible for them to know what will pass the test?

Yesterday in the evening I had a discussion with my bosses boss about this very topic. He posed some questions that certainly were not easy to answer, especially when it comes to deciding on various technologies that a company can pursue. The company that I work for prides its self with being on the cutting edge of technology in our field. If I were an IT manager, it isn’t clear to me how I would stay up on all of the technologies. I suppose some of it would have to be reliant upon hiring smart people who did their best to stay up with the latest. I seriously doubt that any one person could learn it all. It is all very interesting, but highly technical. Have you ever visited The World Wide Web Consortium? If you haven’t, you are in for a treat; they bring all new meaning to the words white paper.

Today I have been doing some research on enterprise document management. We have already heavily invested in a solution, but it we want more from it that it is willing to give us. Spending some time on this vendor’s website, I have learned that they have some solutions, but they come at a very high price. Because we are storing documents on a database that they designed, we would have to pay a heavy license fee to be able to retrieve documents to our own applications. Additionally, with this given vendor, you are welcome to do such things for the fee, but you also have to develop within the constraints of an API that they have developed. This is where this post comes full circle. Though we are already heavily invested in this company, is it worth the money requested to use their development kit, or would it me simpler to just abandon this document storage system and create our own?

Sometimes there just are not simple answers to be found.

No comments: