Why a Big Budget Will Kill Your Software Project

In “Making of a Web App: Determining Scope” I said that new software projects should reduce their scope in order to simplify. Simplification being a good thing for many reasons including:

  • increased likelyhood of success
  • much greater end-user satisfaction
  • much better support and maintenance at lower costs
  • scalability

Yet, on large projects with dozens of stakeholders – such as corporate IT efforts – it becomes almost impossible to effectively reduce and simplify.

When everyone has thrown money in the pot – or sees money in the pot – everyone wants their say.

Everyone feels they need to get their business needs represented on as many projects as possible because you never know what the next budget cycle looks like. And when your project has the budget and the staff to complete the ever growing scope, it becomes almost impossible for you – as the owner of the IT project – to say “no”. You are then left trying to find ways to make everyone happy. And you know that usually, when you try to make everyone happy you end up making no one happy. That’s just the nature of life.

Advice to those on the Corporate IT front lines: Happily take the small budget, quick-win projects.

You can then focus on the business needs of one or two key stakeholders. With a small project, you won’t have to dilute these key stakeholders’ perception of value to them. You will quickly gain happy users that have come to expect corporate IT projects to take a long time, cost a lot of money, and only partially represent their real business needs. Your newly estatic user community will do what it takes to keep you and your team around through good times and bad. You will have an advocate outside of the IT department. And in corporate politics, any cross-departmental advocate is a good thing to have.

To those with grand plans of enterprise domination, let me ask that you think carefully before jumping into those choppy seas. Because just maybe the small, focussed projects are the place to be.

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