Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is Custom Development OK Again?

I was very interested to see Mike Jones’s article in Dr. Dobbs about the current state of custom software development.  Here are my thoughts on the subject:

During the 1990's there was an irrational commitment to custom development as a strategic asset. Due to the state of development platforms at the time and very high expectations, many projects failed to deliver on the promise of business value and of course most failed to stay on budget (we're talking software, after all).

Around the turn of the century, there was a sea change and since then we've been living with the backlash against past excess: over the last decade there has been an irrational aversion to custom development at all levels. Ironically, advances in methodology (primarily Agile) and also the maturity of development platforms and technology stacks has led to a dramatic increases in the productivity and effectiveness of custom development teams. The $1 million custom project of 1998 now cost $30K, and, unlike 1998, it actually works!

What I would like to see is a balance assessment of custom development’s potential. If we can achieve this, I think we'll see an important role for custom work going forward.