As I sometimes do, I’m blogging based on a search term someone used in order to find this blog. Today, I write about this search phrase: “why is lims market so hard to estimate”
In reading this, I think what the person doing the search is probably trying to figure out is to understand why the projects are so difficult to estimate. Here are five reasons:
- Services. The larger the project, the more services it will require but even the smallest projects tend to need some amount of services. Services are more difficult to estimate than product licenses. People new to the industry think the project estimates will be more a matter of adding-up some amount of license and maintenance fees, and that’s not where the bulk of money comes into play in most estimates.
- Bad estimating. In many areas of our industry, people have refused to estimate the implementations in a realistic manner. They have refused to learn how to estimate these software projects, which is what they really are. Or, in some cases, people have made the effort to make good estimates but just happen to have poor estimation skills.
- Underestimation. Some companies seem to almost purposely underestimate projects. After all, once the customer spends a certain amount of money, they’re unlikely to just abandon the project if it’s going to cost more. Then, they keep bleeding the customer for yet more-and-more money. Whether the truly and consciously do it on purpose is really the question but since they’re perfectly happy continuing to make poor estimates and not to try to do any better, I’d say that that’s a purposeful act.
- Lack of information. It’s both hard for customers new to the industry to know exactly what information to provide and it’s sometimes difficult for the software vendors and services vendors to know how to elicit that information. Even when you’re trained in this and have experience, there are times when there is something major missing that no-one quite identifies until much too late in the process.
- Overall misconception of project scope. We call many of these systems COTS (commerical off-the-shelf) systems which customers take to mean that they will need minimal services to make work, but the reality is that there’s as much programming going on as there ever was. We find new euphemisms for it, calling it “scripting” or “configuration” and making excuses that the programming language being used isn’t like the “real” programming languages, but these systems remain complicated and time-consuming to implement. On the sales side, there is too much time spent pretending this isn’t so, and on the customer side, a lack of awareness in too many cases.