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``Throwing money at problems''

The programmers' fear of the ``human wave'' has its parallel in the accountants' spectre of ``throwing money at problems.'' Like most evocative phrases, this expresses both a legitimate concern and an irrational penumbra of fear. Certainly we're all aware of examples where spending more on a project only makes things worse. But that's all the more reason to treasure those rare problems which can be solved with money, particularly if you're a cash-rich company with the money it takes. Treasure them, but don't endure them.

Increasing the budget of a software development project in an attempt to expedite its completion rarely works. A larger group can do more work in a given amount of time, but additional manpower does little to compress the length of the development cycle. But if the problems one faces are insufficient staff, inadequate tools, poor production values, and a lack of promotional presence in the market, these can be solved by judicious spending. Enduring problems which risk the company in an attempt to conserve cash doesn't make sense when your company is valued between 20 and 30 times present earnings. Management's job is to identify the places where spending can benefit the company and apply the resources at hand to the company's needs, not to consider the bank balance more valuable than the company's future.

Editor: John Walker