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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Finally found some time to look at Microsoft's new architecture journal. Some good stuff. In particular, I read a few articles on Software factories. I hate to sound smug, but this shouldn't be news to anyone. Factories, frameworks, workflows, "assembly by orchestration" and reuse have been the way forward for the last 10 years. Certainly, anybody who has seen a product like Biztalk or BusinessWorks knows it is the way forward.

In my opinion, I think the biggest reason why software factories have not yet taken off they way they need to is because of ignorance within the development community. Maybe more accurately - ignorance within the non-development community.

I have worked for a lot of companies, so while I don't have any hard statistics to back this statement up, I feel pretty confident when I say:

If a business has a choice between high quality software or lower cost - lower cost will win EVERY time.

The idea of a consultant saying to a business, "we can do it better for a bit more" is absolutely laughable. Yet, that is exactly what needs to happen. Sure, tools like Biztalk go a long way - but they are too far abstracted from domain specific problems. It is the responsibility fo the business to develop domain specific software applications. What if the banking industry had sat around and said, "We need a financial calculator. Microsoft will build one for us." ...well, it is not too hard to imagine because that would be exactly where every other industry (except maybe telcos) is.

These problems exists because senior managers in most organizations came up in accounting or something completely unsoftware like. Software is the future for nearly every business. I suspect that even today no more then 10% of senior managers have software experience despite having 50% of the logic that runs their business in software. A solid understanding of software development in upper management is absolutely critical. Managers need to understand the pyramid of Time, Quality, Cost (pick two) and the ramifications of their decisions for the future of the business.

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