Quick Answer: No.

Here is the situation: quite often, customers bring me in to add features  to a system they already have. In those cases, there is always code already written. Working with systems such as the LabWare system means there will be quite a lot of LIMSBasic pre-existing; with Thermo’s SampleManager, it will be VGL or some .NET code.

In adding to their system, it is common that I will end up needing to modify something that they already have. When I am doing that and sometimes describe what I’m doing to others outside that customer (usually because I’m looking for ideas on how to best do the changes), I will sometimes get pushback on that. Sometimes, I will get lectures about how what I am working with is all wrong and that I should rewrite it — that I’d be doing the customer a favor by “cleaning it up.”

When the customer has agreed that I should do that, that is fine. Even if they don’t agree to that, I often tell them about things they could do in the future that would make their system easier to manage by using one new tool or another over some of the old code in there. Unfortunately, as many of us who come to already-existing systems know, no matter how a good a job a project has done to make their system as manageable as possible, new features will always mean there is something they could do with the newer system versions to get rid of some of what they have in the legacy system to make it easier to manage.

But here’s the reality check: almost no-one has that kind of time. Nor do they want to spend what little money they have to do something that doesn’t add new features. For many of them, if it works, they leave it alone. Given the argument that it’s hard to manage, many of them will say that it’s not — it works, they don’t touch it, it’s not a problem to them — just to the rest of us who tend to be critical of what others are doing.

So, to those who think I’m doing my customers a disservice by not trying to force them to spend the money on this, I have this to say: It’s their money. I give them the best advice that I can and try to work within their budget to do the best work possible in that situation,.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises