Thomas Wailgum, writing about Oracle’s 2009 1st quarter results, makes some telling comments.
it becomes clear that Oracle is trapped in the age of foolishness and epoch belief that shareholders are more important than customers, while those customers are in the worst of times and full of incredulity.
Oracle’s profits rose by 4 percent year-over-year to $1.12 billion, but revenue fell by 5 percent to $5.1 billion … New software license sales fell 17 percent … A neat trick, did Oracle pull: Increasing year-over-year profits while revenues fell … Oracle’s enterprise software maintenance- and support-related revenues grew 11 percent to $3.1
In effect, Oracle is telling its customers that they, the source of the company’s revenue, are not as important as the shareholders. The way Oracle has increase revenue is by increasing software maintenance that its customers pay.
The question those customers should be asking is “what value are they getting from increased maintenance.” In other markets, a supplier would lose customers if it treated them in the same way.
Of course, there are alternatives. Privately-held software companies are not accountable to external shareholders and have a long-term perspective, rather than the short-term one that drives public companies who rely on stock markets for approval.
I differ from Kimberling’s blog Four Reasons Why ERP Projects Take Longer Than Expected, that ERP project timelines are due to software vendor sales people under-estimating issues and implementers finding unexpected customisation needs.
It can happen with some projects, but in my experience it is unrealistic expectations by customers of when the implementation should be completed and what to be included.
On The Art of Project Management blog, there are some good points on the whys and hows of Saying No.
It’s not easy to say ‘stop’ or ‘no’ but too many projects have got into trouble because either of those words weren’t said often or soon enough.
The question of whether IT certification has value has come up again via an article by Andy Klee. This issue has been debated on Twitter and elsewhere before.
In my opinion, certification is useful to the individual, in terms of having to understand the concepts and techniques that the technology requires; and to a company to show that the person has grasped those concepts and techniques.
But that is where it stops. Anyone who has worked on IT projects for more than a few years has met people with certifications but little practical and useful experience and knowledge. The opposite also applies – I know of people who are superb at what they do but don’t have a long list of certifications.
One of the mistakes a customer can make is to use the certification credentials of an IT provider as a measure of risk mitigation.
That gadfly of commentators, Dennis Howlett, has made his own comments about the certification article, and I tend to agree with him regarding its value to vendors who make big money out of charging for exams.
Some vendors – like Microsoft and SAP – make a big deal of certification, and probably have big teams drawing up new certifications. Other vendors – like Oracle’s JDE group – probably have not been given the same resources, with the result that Andy discusses.