Archive for evaluations

Vaporware, the age old technology scam

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , on July 20, 2010 by newideasconsult

I have a real pet peeve, and its solutions being offered to customers that simply do not yet exist or do only a part of what they should, vaporware in other words!  It’s been a bane for me for years, way back during the old Netscape vs Microsoft wars, then during my tenure at ICL, and since when consulting with clients and seeing just what their suppliers try to sell them. The issue with vaporware is that it starts with dishonesty, a sale to a customer based on fictitious features that then leads to shifting delivery dates and higher budget demands whilst the vendor tries to ‘finish’ the product at the customer’s expense.

I have no problem with the concept of selling components to customers that then needs customization once purchased.  In fact this modular approach we apply in the transaction management software we developed.  It makes sense to build components or modules into a platform that then needs customization for a customer, as opposed to writing a fresh solution from scratch every sale you get.  There is logic in approaching software development in such a way.

Time and again tenders or quotes are awarded on the back of dubious claims by solution providers, and it is the client who ends up with a raw deal.  The current economic climate does not help either as everyone seems even more desperate for business.  A bad situation is just made worse, and we should not stand for it.  As consultants though the task is ours to evaluate those solutions and manage the client and supplier’s expectations.  Tough when time lines and budgets tighten around you, but necessary if the client is to have a fair deal.

Developing a smart vendor evaluation process is a first step in the right direction, and it needs to be a process that keeps up with the fast changing world we live in.  We all know the basic questions to ask, but often we weigh them incorrectly leaving us with a short list of the usual candidates, to the exclusion of new dynamic solutions who may be looking for their first project, but have no references or solutions with a different approach because we were too vertical in the type we were looking for, and so on.  A flexible approach with a framework of core requirements and an openness to fresh ideas is not an easy balance to find I agree, but there seems to me to be no other option.  Technology changes so quickly these days that being too rigid in weighting your supplier evaluations or being to casual in your selections could cause your client financial pain and an incompatible outcome.