I’ve seen the symptoms occur in every IT shop I’ve worked in, though rarely in consulting firms. They symptoms are:
- The CIO/CTO sees something about a new product that’s buzzword compliant be that Y2K certified, agile, or SOA.
- The tool costs at least six figures.
- The tool is “enterprise class” whatever that means.
- The tool is a must have when pitching the business on a new project. “Well, we need Product X to allow us to build a true enterprise system, otherwise it won’t scale.”
- No one asks anyone who’s going to actually use the tool what they think about it.
- It sits somewhere in a Gartner magic quadrant.
- Once some momentum is started there’s no way the purchase isn’t going to happen.
- It’s standards compliant–the vendor’s proprietary standard.
The end result is the product gets purchased and the line IT employees get screwed. Real alternatives to spending money on an expensive tool that may become just shelfware are ignored. I can think of tons better ways to spend six figures:
- New developer boxes for developers who haven’t had a new machine in years. Total cost maybe $6000.00 per developer for a nice high end box with dual 30″ monitors. Productivity goes up and for $100k you can outfit at least fifteen developers. On top of that you get a huge morale boost because the developers actually believe the line about really appreciating the employees.
- Bring in a high end mentor/trainer/coach at say $200/hr to teach things like TDD, real OO design, refactoring, XP practices. Total hours covered 500 or enough to spend an individual week with twelve developers.
- At about $3500 per conference send 28 developers to conferences. Conferences like like TSS Symposium, JavaOne, OSCON, SD West, RubyConf, NFJS, ETech, etc expand their abilities and vision.
- Setup a break room for developers and stock it with Foosball tables, video game systems, and free snacks, water, coffee, and soda.
- Buy Areon chairs for all the developers and hand out the rest as bonuses for high performing teams.