Flexible demand-driven development

Outsourcing small projects or using some management strapline like “flexible demand-driven development model”, it never works.

This is the Nth place I’ve worked where they’ve decided that to be able to supply the non-linear development needs of the business, the next solution to try is to outsource individual projects to “strategic development partners”.

In my experience, this solution is normally the third to be tried after

  1. Hiring and firing contractors in line with demand. This never works because business knowledge is key to decent development. You can cope with a few business-agnostic resources but not many. And I would say that it takes at least six months before you start to get comfortable with most business knowledge.
  2. Outsourcing to bodyshops on the subcontinent. I reckon this never works either because of many of the same arguments above. Plus the time differences affect your communication.

And so, you get in some onshore or near-shore “development partners”. If you’re lucky, this works the first couple of times because your development partners put on their industry-specific high-rollers but then it’s not long before the quality degrades. Even if you’re lucky, the headaches of integration with existing in-house systems, differing standards and ongoing support are too big.

Unfortunately, I’ve not seen the solution anywhere yet. It’s a crisis that IT is still working through to find the solution, although I suspect that, until the magical system comes along with you draw some boxes and lines in Visio and then something builds your whole system, it’s about being more realistic about what the IT department can deliver in the time, no matter how unpalatable that might be.


3 Responses to Flexible demand-driven development

  1. Funny — I wrote a post about this not so long ago. Amazing what’s considered “cost”.

  2. prodlife says:

    I’ve heard someone describe it perfectly few days ago: IT departments in large corporations can’t get anything done, and it is much cheaper to get nothing done in India.

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