Promises, promises

In my experience, there’s been an age-old war waging between sales and implementation. Salespeople often promise things to get the deal, or worse still promise things in less time than it’ll take to pull it off.

I’ve been on both sides of this fence during my career in the software business. I learnt that sometimes you don’t promise things you don’t have, then another vendor will (even if they’re in the same boat as you) and you’ll lose the deal and thousands in support contracts.

That doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s right. In fact, it points out a fundamental problem with the software industry in general. The competition has become so fierce that more lies are being told by vendors, resulting in more failed projects for customers, resulting in a general opinion in the press that “all” IT projects are doomed to miss deadlines, run over budget and fail to deliver the promises.

I guess many of us have come across this scenario before (I know I have), and found it to be a somewhat painful experience. If you’re a salesman, you’re worrying whether the developers are going to get it done on time, and if you’re a developer, you’re worrying whether you’re going to get it done on time.

Maybe it’s time for a sea-change? One where salesmen give realistic timescales and tell the truth about what they can and can’t do, and where customers are more trusting, and accept longer delivery timescales in the confidence that they will get what they asked for.

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