2/13/2012 1:45:00 PM
I love software – it’s been one of my passions as an adult, both professionally and in my leisure time. While there was a time when I made my livelihood delivering customized solutions to businesses, the places where this approach is useful have greatly decreased. Over the last 15+ years, I’ve seen some of the serious harm that can come from dependence on highly customized solutions – even those that supporters may rush to defend as “just configured.”
In this first part of a series of posts on this topic, I’ll focus on the danger that I call “a community of one.” This unique and lonely “community” is the result of the fact that customized solutions – by definition - have only one customer for the software code that has been written just for them. In a community, you benefit from collective knowledge and collective investment. Providers of commercial (rather than custom) software have access to community knowledge and investment that is continually supplied from a number of customers and partners, as well as prospective customers. There’s no way for one company to duplicate this – the benefits simply aren’t available to a community of one.
In order to justify a customized solution, it needs to provide enough values to offset the loss of this community knowledge and investment benefit, as well as the other dangers discussed in my next posts. To be continued….