N.B. – This post asks more questions than it provides answers.
I have been thinking more about the analogies between the medical and the ERP/CRM/HR software implementation professions. Reflecting once again on my new pill box, I noticed that there were two different types of pills.
Type A pills are of the over-the-counter variety – vitamins and an allergy medication. Self diagnosis and prescription writing is the norm. Certain pain killers, such as Tylenol, and cold and flu medication are in included here as well. Type B pills are prescription drugs. I had to obtain a diagnosis and prescription from a doctor. I then made the connection that in the ERP/CRM/HR software world we have the same situation.
Type A software is available over-the-counter meaning anyone can go into Staples or Best Buy and just purchase it, think Peachtree, Act! and Quickbooks. Type B software you must get a prescription from a qualified professional to obtain (and yes, it is more expensive).
A key difference is that in the software world the person who does the diagnosis (needs analysis) and writes the prescription (list of software needed), also fills it. Is this a good idea? Why did this separation of roles happen in the medical field? Was it to allow or even perhaps force physicians to concentrate on the diagnosis?
One of my mantras is that “prescription before diagnosis is malpractice.” I believe this is just as true in software consulting as it is in medicine. Yet, I think this practice occurs far too often in the software world. Is this because the implementation people (doctors) are usually aligned to specific publishers (the pharmaceutical manufacturers)? If this were to be common practice in medicine, would this pit Sanofi-Aventis doctors against Merck doctors? Am I naive, maybe this is already the case?
Other questions also arise:
- With over-the-counter medication there are brands (Tylenol) and generics (acetaminophen), is there an equivalent in software?
- Is SaaS just the equivalent of the emergence of health insurance (pay a monthly fee for your health needs)?
- Why is it that certain drugs make the leap from Type B to Type A (my allergy medication for example), yet software does not?
- Can we next expect government regulation?
- Am I just stretching this analogy too far?