In my experiences as a software developer, its fairly normal to hear comments like the following:
I had the good fortune of attending a Portland XP Users Group presentation a few weeks ago by James Shore. He got off on a slight tangent and gave us (well, at least me) a simple equation to chew on:
He explained that at its core, Return On Investment is represented by the previous equation. It can help explain quite a bit about the world. This was in response to someone asking about the high cost of the software development methodology under discussion that night.
If you're presented with a scenario where the value is constant, then the only way to play the game is to minimize costs. Think of a job that never changes. If it always provides the same value to a business, management will seek ways to reduce cost in order to improve the ROI equation.
On the other hand, a scenario where value has the capability for growth is much more interesting. If you wanted to make $500,000 a year then you would be challenged to deliver some multiple of that cost as a value to the business.
Here's my favorite take-away: At some point along the graph, as value increases then cost becomes insignificant. This is the place to be.
The initial cost of software can make some people squeamish. I'm certainly not one to be afraid of zeros; I'm much more interested in the value.
This is why I love my job at Pop Art. Driving value higher and then swooping back to cut costs with new technology that makes me more productive. Value will often come in several forms including cash value, brand value and community value. In any case, it all starts with that equation.
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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in any way.