Software Usage in India: The whole Story

By: Rickie Morlie

SoftwareIndustry in India uniquely identified Compare another Countries SoftwareIndustry, if we are talking about revenue concern with another domestic projectthen it hardly reach up to 50% of the total turnover of the software Industry,Yet now a days, there is a heavy emphasis on exports, this may sound good, Itactually is also a potential source of concern.??? ?

Reasonbehind it is that the Software Industry is vital a support industry. TheImportant role of software industry is to, to improve the functionality of someform, ??

or solvesome problem which will be hard to solve manually. The improvement may be inform of improved form or service, problem solving capability, informationmanagement, efficiency, or something else. In other words, the real success ofthe software industry should not be measured in terms of how much revenue theyhave generated, but how much enhancement they are able to induce in otherindustry segments. In this light, the high ratio of exports to domesticconsumption of software is a disturbing trend - in exports the multiplyingeffect of the software goes to some other country.

A main causefor the domestic consumption not being high is lack of understanding ofsoftware, its processes, and its costs by the consumer organizations. For along time consumers of IT goods thought that software is "free", andthe main thing in IT is the hardware. Little was it realized that hardware,without proper software is almost literally a piece of metal and silicon junk.This mentality, unfortunately, was also reinforced by some hardware vendors,who at the time of selling their machines, either promised to "givesoftware for free" or convinced the buyer that software is something that thebuyer can easily do himself. And this is as far from truth as it can be!

As weknow, software can be broken into three categories - system software, softwarepackages, and application software. System software comprises of operatingsystems compilers, editors, etc., which typically come with the machine.Software packages like DBASE, LOTUS, and ORACLE etc. are general utilityprograms that can be used to develop applications in some domain more easily.Application softwares are those that that are used to provide a computer basedsolution to some problem of an organization. Some examples of such softwaresare, software for payroll processing, banking, railway/airline reservations,inventory management, decision support system, etc. Application software that makes the IT investment useful to an organization.Generally, a typical application software depends on the needs,characteristics, and methods of the organization, and has to be developedspecially for the organization and cannot be bought as an off-the-shelfproduct. And as things stand today, getting software developed is not cheap.

Let us see the order of software costs from the view point of a client. One wayto estimate the size and complexity of an application is the function pointsapproach. By this method, a medium sized business application requiring 10-12reports to be printed, having 8-10 different types of input, a few interfacefiles, and a dozen odd different types of queries, will have about 200 functionpoints. Typical productivity in the software industry is of the order of 10function points per person-month. This means that this application will requireabout 20 person-months to develop. That is, a team of 4 software engineers willdevelop this system in about 5 months. As many good organizations chargebetween Rs 6 - 10 lakhs per person-year, in terms of money such an applicationwill cost at least Rs 12 lakhs! And it can easily run on a workstation or asystem consisting of a server and a few PCs costing about 6 - 8 lakhs! So, in Indiaalso, as the hardware costs have fallen over the years and the salaries ofsoftware personnel have grown, the reversal of hardware-software cost ratio hasoccurred. Only, many organizations still do not seem to realize it! Being ready to pay the cost of software is not the complete story. Anotherreason for organizations not getting proper returns from their automation plansis that organizations do not understand software, the process of producingsoftware, and software quality. It is now known that to produce quality software, the developing organizationhas to follow well laid out software engineering methodologies. Unfortunately,there are many software organizations who will not follow these methods and doa poor job of developing the software, but bid low for a job. Due to lack ofappreciation of software quality and software development process, a consumercannot understand why a company will charge 20 lakhs, while the team of boysout of school are willing to do it for one tenth the cost. They find out thereason the hard way - when low quality software with poor user interface andwithout proper documentation gets delivered, which keeps failing, loosing dataand records, and is not liked by the people who have to use it. The otherapproach, which the more aware companies will take, is to give the contract tosome well known, reputed company. They will get a good software but willprobably be charged more due to their inability to distinguish good from badand effectively use competitive forces to reduce costs. Getting quality based application software developed is actually not an easytask. It requires sufficient knowledge about the software development processto be able to distinguish between a "mature" software organizationthat has reasonable software development processes in place, and an"immature" organization, which produces software in an ad-hoc manner,and is therefore more likely to produce a low quality software. Furthermore,the customer organization also has to play an active role during thedevelopment of software, if it wants the software to satisfy its objectives -even the ISO: 9000 standards for software companies specify that the customerorganization play a key role during software development. Unless the customerorganization analyses the capability of the software developers and plays itsthe proper role during software developmentBusiness Management Articles, it is likely to end up wasting itsinvestment in computerization and IT.

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