About two years ago we had a lead come in from a staffing company, and after a few demos the prospect went quiet. I had a chance to catch up with the owner at a subsequent conference where she informed me that “We’re going into competition with you in the staffing software business, sorry.”
Sure enough her agency-prepared ads appeared in subequent trade journals and banners went up on industry websites. Her primary tagline: “We couldn’t find what we needed so we built it ourselves.”
I suppose since I’m writing publicly about this 24 months later you can guess the inevitable result. The new version of her software never made it out of development. She ran out of money angel-investing in the new venture and pulled all the ads. And the diversion reduced the focus and profitability of her main staffing business, not to mention that she still has no enterprise platform to run it on.
And of course she blamed her developers. Hmm, sounds like a serious case of ‘fire the grunts and promote the non-participants’. Slashdot is running a great post on this and more on home-brew software projects, and I got a kick out of one of the posts by Xyrus which I am reprinting below without permission. If like me you like Xyrus, you can read the rest of his/her posts here.
But let’s turn the tables here. Let’s give the home builders the usual specs that a software developer is given.You estimate it will take you 18 months to build the house. The “owner” comes back and says you have eight.You say you need specific pieces of wood and nails to build the house with, however the owner tells you to use new unproven materials that don’t even have effective methods of working with.You say you need specific types of hammers, saws, cement mixers, etc. The owner says you can only use a rusty hammer with a broken claw, a dull saw, and you’ll have to mix the cement by hand in a bucket to pur the foundation.Your allowed to look at the location your going to build at, but you are not given the resources or time research the ground stability.After you have rushed together a blue print, you’re told to start. Halfway through, the owner changes the building materials, tells you that the utilities won’t be there for another year, and change the complete layout of the house in the process.In the last two weeks of frantic work, the town code person changes all the building codes.So what kind of house do you get after this?You don’t.And that’s how a lot of software comes out.