...by Daniel Szego
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sorces of efficency and inefficiency on the SharePoint software market.

As I described in the previous article, for a basic modelling we suppose that there are companies that want to buy software solutions that match for a given set of R1, R2, .. RN requirements.We suppose that there is such a software soltuion that covers the requirements and which can be delivered in a certain setup time and for a certain price.

Figure 0. Ideal solution.

Efficiency of the market means if in certain projects the actual cost of the whole project is about the software product price and the time of the whole roll out of the project is about the setup time. 
Inefficiency means however if the whole total cost of the project will be much bigger as the cost of the product itself and the total time of the project is much bigger as the setup time of the software solution. As exactly measure the efficiency and inefficiency on market is certainly difficult, it is more simpler to identify several typical situations that surely result in inefficiency, like increased total cost or increased roll-out time.
In the following I try to summarize several typical situations.

1. Requirements are not clear

Figure 1. Requirements are not clear.

As the whole IT field is pretty fast changing, summarizing the requirements are sometimes not simple. Giving examples from SharePoint, usually one requirement is that the pages should be mobile compatible. It is usually not sure however what this requirement exactly mean. 
The following situations can be imagined: 
- The pages should be somehow showed on mobile devices.
- There should be a responsive master page solutions and the layout should be dependent on the screen resolution.
- The downloadable content and javascript libraries should be optimized for different network circumstances. 
- There should be an App for all major mobile operation systems that shows the content.
- ...
Realizing these requirements usually imply pretty different cost and delivery time.

2. Where to find

Figure 2. Where to find.

This is typical a market information attribute. Supposing that a project management software is needed to a company simple collectiong the companies that can provide such a solution can take time and energy. In this sense the so called App stores and Solution stores provide the advantage that all provider is easy to find. Although it is important to note that App and solution stores are usually technology dependent, as soon as solutions between two technologies have to compared, the situation can be difficult. 

3. Which fits 

Figure 3. Which fits.

Even if we find the possibly solutions and providers they are not necessarily too simple to compare. As objective product sheets are not always tipical to provide one should probably install all of the solutions try them out and compare them. It can be carried out if the technological circumstances are pretty similar, like at the example of a SharePoint App store there is always a possibility install a trial version. As soon as however more than one technological solutions should be compared, the situation can be fast complicated. Certainly there is a possibility to order pre-sales demonstrations, however they are not necessarily faster and the do not necessarily provide an objective view.

4. Too big

Figure 4. Too big.

Sometimes the solution is too big for the requirements, meaning that there are a lot of additional requirements that are not needed, despite provided by the solution. As an example consider that we need a simple document management software, as SharePoint can be a natural choice we might as well choose SAP as even in SAP there are some document management functionality. If we do so, we get a big dinosaurs that have a lot of additional functionality like full modules of human resources or finance. It implies of course an extreme increase both in cost and in prices.

5. Too small

Figure 5. Too small.

Most of the software solutions are not just simple products but they contain the possibility to extensions. This can be however dangerous : if the extension is too big than usually it is worth better to implement everything from scratch or get another product. As an example it is certainly possible to set up in SharePoint a full CRM system. Instead of a deep extension of SharePoint however, it might be a better idea to a buy a dedicated CRM solution, like Dynamics CRM. As a thumb of rule, if more than 30% of a software product have to be customized it is a good idea to evaluate alternative solutions as well.  

6. Delivered in parts

Figure 6. Delivered in parts.

It is always a drawback if the solution is delivered in parts. Like infrastructure, application layer, application on the top of an application layer and perhaps consulting and training on the top.The different parts are usually delivered by different experts, even by different companies so they surely implies a increase both in time and in cost. As an example, cloud solutions, like Offie365 for SharePoint, have both the advantage that they are cost efficient and that the delivery time is null as the infrastructure is practically ready.  

7. Lack of extensibility

Figure 7. Lack of extensibity.

This is probably the most difficult aspect. Most software solution should not only be used today but in the future as well. It is usually not clear which requirements should be covered in the future, as the technology might not even exist. On the other hand most software solutions can be extended only in special directions. As an example if we want to have a portal solutions that we want to use in the future for internet of things than Office365 is not necessarily the best solution.