Jukka Tiainen
Oct 12, 2010
Posted in category: 2010 Member Articles

What can you implement in 24 months?

The September issue of Foreign Affairs runs an article on cyber warfare and its implications to military strategies. The article contains the following tidbit of information.

On average, it takes the Pentagon 81 months to make a new computer system operational after it is first funded. Taking into the account the growth of computing power suggested by Moore’s law, this means that by the time systems are delivered, they are already at least four generations behind the state of the art. By comparison, the iPhone was developed in 24 months. That is less time than it would take the Pentagon to prepare a budget and receive congressional approval for it.

According to industry sources, it took Nokia about 24 months to develop the Nokia N900 phone. Thus, it is possible to develop a phone and it’s systems landscape (e.g. apps store, marketing, logistics, production systems etc) in 24 months.

Now, compare this to a typical ICT project, say to an ordinary ERP replacement project in a mid-size or large corporation. Have you seen any project getting ready, and by ready I mean deployed and in daily use by end users, in less than 24 months? I have not seen many. And still, it should be much easier to customize and deploy an ERP system than developing a new phone system. After all, the ERP is a product and has been deployed somewhere else already. There is not so much development that is absolutely necessary. And in any case, there is no need to design and implement new hardware and production systems.

How can it be that ERP projects take longer than phone development projects? Is it the natural state of affairs or are we in ICT doing something terribly wrong? Are we customizing the ERP software when we should be adopting new processes? Are we changing requirements all the time? Are we not committed to the project, both individually and as a corporation? Or is just that we are running too many projects at the same time.

Be it as it may, but no ICT project should take longer than it took Apple to develop the iPhone. A project plan proposing a longer project should be rejected outright by the corporate business management


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