Random musings, observations, squeaks, whimpers and perhaps the ocassional rant. About what, I'm not sure.

Monday, April 04, 2005

JAVA = IT Job Security? SI's = Perpetual Projects?

I still don’t get why CTOs and CIOs let systems integrators sell their organizations ground-up development on stuff they could have up and running in less than half the time with twice the functionality if they used a product to do the same thing.  Do these folks do any research at all?  Do the SI’s run IT now?  Sheesh…

Sandy Kemsley from Kemsley Design posted in her BizBlog about a project like this… a good out-of-the-box fit for our COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) e-forms software that an SI preferred to build from the ground up.  Having been an systems integrator I know why this is attractive to them as a service provider – its all about billables, and getting the client to sign up for the annuity – er, I mean renew the contract.  But it doesn’t make sense.

When I was doing integration, I was happy to blend third-party products into the mix, but then again, I also worked to work myself out of engagements… that is, find the best fit, deliver the best value and then train the organization to sustain and extend it.  Since we were largely a product company that offered services rather than an integrator at my last tech gig, this worked great.  And some of the integrators we worked with HATED it.  They never learned that the quicker, less complex solution is the more VALUABLE solution, and hence commands a higher price – higher billings with less effort?  With happy clients?  Who doesn’t want more of that?  Many integrators…

Call me old fashioned, but I still think its better to show the client you can solve problems and promptly than to get the mother-of-all continuing contracts and keep a tight grip on their wallet.  In the end, the former of these models is always more profitable, as the C-level executive’s problem sets are ever-changing, and becoming a trusted advisor to them is not only infinitely more scalable, its also infinitely more interesting.

Oh well… guess all those folks who love Java or have lots of folks working for them that love Java have to have something to do.  What the hell – business needs lots of wheels.  Guess some clients will happily pay to have a few reinvented…


BTW – if any of you old-time SIs are reading out there, there’s a ton of money to be made in delivering solutions to your clients’ business problems (notice I did not say ‘technology problems’) using off the shelf software.  If you need to read something on how to unlink your billings from the amount of time you spend on a project, read Million Dollar Consulting or Value-Based Fees by Alan Weiss.  And if you want/need help getting the hell out of the technology business and into the problem solving/delivering business value business, call me.


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