Subject: engineering counts
From: Tom Lord <lord@regexps.com>
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 03:04:55 -0700 (PDT)



	I wrote:

       Look, if I'm going to lead a project, I want a team who can take
       orders on the arbitrary but important details: indenting style, unit
       testing conventions, work-flow, log keeping, status reporting.

       If I'm going to lead a collection of teams, I want the authority to
       make certain calls from time to time: which of two approaches to take
       when neither is the clear meritorious winner (and there isn't
       bandwidth to try both), for example.  And I want the higher-level
       ability to give orders: global coding and testing standards, makefile
       conventions, high-level work-flow, log keeping, status reporting...


I'm sort of pointing towards some more mature engineering processes
for FSBs.  I really believe that if FSBs take these issues seriously,
and nail them down, that that in and of itself is a salable product
with windfall opportunities.

Decision makers *outside* of FSBs understand that they rely on
software, and that software is an artifact created by an ongoing
process.  Proprietary licensing is just a (problematic) business model
implementation technique.  The real value, for major infrastruture
buyers, is the engineering process and I'm pretty sure (for example,
just looking at the press releases and evolution of some successful
businesses) that people will pay a premium to provide inputs to a
winning process.

When I turn to an FSB website and find little besides the touting of
"solutions" -- where solutions means particular pieces of software
backed by vague "support" -- the engineer in me screams "amateurs!"
and "trend followers!".  What I really want to find is visibility into
the engineering process: org charts, workflows, testing procedures and
results, status reports.... What I really want to see on "products and
services" pages is, sure, shrink-wrapped solutions for low-budget
customers but, beyond that, "here's how you get to interface to our
engineering pipeline in deep and meaningful ways."

With some good human factors in web design, the same sort of products
and services work for technically naive individual home consumers,
too.


-t