In the course of my dealings with clients, many of whom easily admit that they have real problems to solve that affect program schedules, the company bottom line, or even the security of human lives, I am often met with the phrase “your software is very expensive”.
Putting aside the fact that our software is modular, meaning that you can choose what you need, as well as the fact that we have many licensing options, meaning that you can choose something that fits your workflow and business plan, addressing the ‘expensive’ belief is important on a much grander level.
Quite simply, if you are trying to answer questions about a system whose individual cost may be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but whose value to a greater system, or system of systems, verges on millions if not more, do you really want to scrimp, count pennies, or otherwise be frugal in this area of development/system engineering?
For example, operational test planning for any system can be complex and fraught with risk, but what if that system needs its testing accomplished some 20,000 km away from human hands? That is the situation faced by the engineering teams of the Galileo satellite navigation system (Galileo in-orbit test operational planning). With many factors and constraints to consider for the initial testing on a highly-visible European program, they determined wisely that the value of the software technology far outweighed its balance sheet cost.
Another example: unfortunately war has also become very complex, with multi-domain and/or many systems now coming to bear on operations from the strategic level to the tactical, and their coordination, exploitation, and integration to the war effort is definitely an area you do not want to scrimp on. The US Marine Corps Combat Development Command, in supporting Afghanistan operations, needed a pre-mission planning tool for ISR, Strike, Space, and Communications assets (Pre-Mission Planning for Airborne Assets). With AGI’s help, the tool was built in weeks and was quickly applied to managing sensor and communications coverage, and thus supporting the critical decision cycles of subordinate unit commanders.
There are, of course, many examples that cannot be covered here, but for those who are looking for information regarding improving efficiency or productivity, check here for some impressive stats from a Frost & Sullivan report, as well as other white papers regarding the ‘true’ cost of COTS software. We have seen many examples of highly-paid and ‘expensive’ engineers re-inventing software wheels and otherwise not applying their talents optimally to complete programs or win business for their respective organizations. Sometimes this is due to a lack of knowledge of what is out there, and sometimes it is because of the perception of COTS as being too expensive.
You know what is really too expensive with respect to conceiving, designing, developing and deploying complex systems? Failure.