A recent article in The Economist had some interesting information on entrepreneurs based on a paper Small Business Activity Does Not Measure Entreprenurship by Magnus Henrekson and Tino Sanandaji:
- “… the number of self-made billionaires a country produces provides a much better measure of its entrepreneurial vigour than the number of small businesses.”
- There’s a negative correlation between the density of billionaires who’ve built innovative business per capita and the rates of small-business owners, self-employment and startups (i.e. measuring a country’s entrepreneurship by the # of small companies is way off)
- 3/4 of all folks who start companies want to keep them small enough to manage themselves
- A high tax environment encourages “copycat” entrepreneurs vs. entrepreneurs that truly innovate
Many people mistakenly believe that computers are what make the world go ’round – that we can’t do anything without them, and if they went away tomorrow, the world would slip into a cultural black hole. In reality, computers don’t make the world go ’round. Software does. And sometimes that software gets quite expensive. As you’re about to see, programs can cost anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands depending on the scope and specificity of purpose. Whenever possible, we’ve tried to slap an exact number on the product for you. At the very least, you’ll get an estimate.
Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with enterprise-type software, it’s impossible to find a hard number on the web. Quotes often vary depending on the circumstances. Still, if you left those types of software programs out of a list like this, it wouldn’t be an accurate representation. Our goal: to show just how valuable these 13 Crazy Expensive Software Products are to the companies and the people who use them. Here goes!
As I note in my book, “Building a Winning Business,” good customer-vendor relationships require both parties to participate, communicate and share responsibility for a successful outcome. Are you a good customer? This might seem like an odd question. After all, isn’t it the vendor’s responsibility to make the relationship work? While a vendor must go the extra mile, the customer also has obligations in making vendor relationships effective. While it might sound trite, I honestly believe the same qualities apply to a good customer as to a good employee, friend or even a spouse: trust, mutual respect and appreciation, and sharing that shows that each is committed to the success of the partnership.
On a practical level, this translates into the following behaviors on the part of customers:
- Clearly communicate expectations. Assumptions are not helpful. Customers who share their expectations openly and early are much happier with their project outcomes.
- Provide clear direction and feedback to the project team to control scope.
- Understand that changes to a project that modify the original base requirements often are necessary to provide the best solution.
- Take the initiative in quickly removing roadblocks for those doing the work.
- Share responsibility for success of delivery.
- Work to diminish political boundaries.
- Be actively engaged in the process all along the way.
- Do not overreact to minor setbacks.
- Communicate on a daily basis.
- Pay on time.
Once you’ve established the basic expectations and defined who has responsibility for what, it’s time to clearly define what’s in and what’s out of the project. In the world of Agile, this is choosing what to tackle in a project’s backlog.
With a high profile and highly political project like the federal health insurance website, it’s highly possible that the project terms were changed frequently to appease political forces. A mistake made was to draw a line in the sand around a specific date. While project management methods have changed over time, the old adage is still true, “Time. Budget. Features. You get to choose two of the three.” If the project was handled properly, changes – and their implications for the timeline and budget –would have been handled correctly.
It seems obvious that when project additions occur (and always they do), give and take must happen. If there are additions, the client needs to expect more time and/or budget. If not, more features obviously translates into the need to let go of other aspects of the project to keep the bottom line from increasing.
Perhaps most important of all, is the establishment of sprints. Sprints keep projects moving forward smoothly. Even small projects should have several sprints.
Finally, success is a two way street. Not all the responsibility for making things work lies with the vendor. In my last post in this series I will discuss the importance of being a good customer.