Saturday, 28 June 2008

Intentionally add development costs

It is a common misunderstanding, that you can optimize a process to become optimal by optimizing subprocesses.

A good analogy is to find the highest hill by walking around in an environment with 100 meter visibility. If you always try to walk upwards, you may find a local hill. If you go downwards a bit, you may find a bigger hill. There are many good mathematical books on this topic.

When dealing with programmers, it's a bit more complex. However, every time your organization reorganizes itself, you probably experience exactly this: Initially higher costs, but in the long run costs are significantly lower. One reason is, that information is distributed.

In programming, the environment constantly changes. Your organization changes, your customers change, the technology changes. It's like having the hills change height all the time. This is where it is important to pick a hill to stand on. Pick a hill that is one of the highest, but not too far from the other hills. You will find such one easily, if you change hill frequently.

This is what a continuous improvement process is all about. It adds extra costs, but it ensures long term competitiveness.

Using Delphi can be described as being on a hill in a "Delphi" group of hills. Using Java and .net can be described in the same way. Erlang is a very small group of hills. One of the good things about Delphi is, that every time Borland/CodeGear add a new hill, it's close to the previous hills, and not too far from the Microsoft hills. This keeps the costs of continuous improvement down.

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