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Hardfacts on Software – The cost of Cheap 2

I feel sorry for the guys that start setting up their online store the wrong way! Just yesterday I had a two-hour discussion with a bright young entrepreneur who is setting up a web store. He’s busy for three years now and not yet live. He’s in a dead end! What happened?
Well, he is in an industry that makes products to order, from a selection of about four or so components. Think bicycles with different options for tyres, seats, frame size and frame material. (He is actually in a different industry which I won’t reveal – but you get the idea) He needed a web store that could enable customers to build a product on the fly using those components. He also needed a calculator that could calculate the cost of the finished product on the fly, given the day’s exchange rate, commodity prices and so on. So quite complex!
He did some research but did not find the right e-commerce platform to build this on (back then Magento was pretty new…), so he decided to build one from scratch using a good programmer.
Now three years on, his system is not yet complete. Key parts are still missing, but he is about 10% away from going live with phase one. Problem is, the programmer disappeared and now he is struggling to find another programmer to take over the site and complete it. No programmer wants to touch another guys code, the risk of breaking something and then spending hours digging through unfamiliar territory is just too great – and costly.
So going forward there are really only two options: Finding another programmer or starting from scratch on a solid platform like Magento. What are the pro’s and con’s you might wonder?
Well, at this stage of the fight, where Phase one of the project is 90% complete it is difficult to turn back, press “delete”, swallow ones’ pride, and start again! It’s not all pride though, it is also the sunken investment that one “deletes” then. Click – and 200k and three years hard work are gone. Just like that.
So instinct would tell us that it is worth it to continue plodding along until at least we see some return on our money. BUT, the platform would still suffer from disappearing programmers. It would be outdated soon, as only one company is investing in it. It’s features would soon be obsolete, and, since this hasn’t even been in production, the risk is great that one ends up in a long bug-fixing cycle. All of this distracts from the core focus of doing business, selling things, making heaps of cash!
So there is a hidden cost as well that needs to be considered. The cost of bugs in the system; the cost of outdated features; the cost of missing features; the cost of paying some poor programmer tons of money to dig through complex code, and then perhaps not being able to fix the problem. The cost of being held hostage by your programmer, because he knows you can’t easily move to the next guy!
So the other option would of course be to start from scratch on a platform like Magento ( full disclosure: we here at Vaimo are Gold Partners for Magento)(or another opensource e-commerce platform – do your research).
The biggest cost would obviously be to pay for the new project. The advantages however are just as obvious. You would not be locked in to any vendor/programmer. Magento has over 400,000 members in its community; 400,000 people you could contract and who would easily understand what is going on in your project.
You would also benefit from the ongoing changes and development that this community produces. Imagine having 400,000 programmers working for you? You would also benefit from a huge feature set, something you could never profitably develop on your own.
Many of these features might sound mundane and you would add them as an afterthought, but many are critical for you to grow your business: Think access rights, multiple stores, multiple themes, multi currency, multi lingual, multi everything. These things are difficult to develop correctly. So doing this on your own is suicide!
Something to think about then before you start building your own platform! And even if you are nearly done – it might be worthwhile (think – cheaper) to press the “delete” button!
Enjoy the shopping!

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