NIH Syndrome

June 4, 2007

Not Invented Here (NIH) syndrome is where companies prefer to develop their own solution rather than reuse an existing solution. In most cases this is an absolute disaster. Even though an existing software package has bugs, anything you develop will likely have more bugs. At least the existing package has been tested, used in the field, and updated to shake out many bugs. Many IT people have told me that their management will not pay for any additional software; instead, they build it all themselves. Their managers are morons. If an IT goon is paid $100K, the company is really paying ~$150K for salary + benefits + office space. Let’s say it takes 50 dev-weeks to write, debug, and test the data access layer for a moderately complex schema. Certainly one can purchase an object-relational mapping tool for far less than $150K. Hibernate is free, and most commercial tools offer source code access for a few thousand $s. This is vastly cheaper than building it in-house. The same applies to windows and web controls, testing tools, IDEs and other libraries. NASA and the US military now strives to use off-the-shelf components where possible. So why aren’t IT shops buying more software components? I wanted to start a little software tools company, but was dissuaded after too many IT guys told me their companies don’t buy much 3rd party software. What’s a compiler guy like me to do?


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