OSS business case evaluators routinely ask many questions that relate to key metrics like return on investment, capital to be outlaid, expected returns, return on investment, and more of the same circular financial questions. 🙂
They do also ask a few technical questions to decide risk – of doing the project or not doing the project. Timeframes and resources come into play, but again tend to land back on the same financial metric(s). Occasionally they’ll ask how the project will impact the precious NPS (Net Promoter Score), which we all know is a simple estimate to calculate (ie pluck out of thin air).
As you can tell, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here so far.
One incredibly important question that I’ve never heard asked, but is usually relatively easy to determine is, “Will this change make future upgrades harder?”
The answer to this question will determine whether the project will have a snowballing effect on the TCO (total cost of ownership – yes, another financial metric that actually isn’t ROI) of the OSS. Any customisation to off-the-shelf tools will invariably add to the complexity of performing future upgrades. If customisations feed data to additional customisations, then there is a layer multiple to add to the snowball effect.
Throw in enough multi-layered (meshed?) customisations and otherwise routine upgrades start to become massive undertakings. If upgrades are taking months of planning, then your OSS clearly no longer facilitates the level of flexibility that is essential for modern service providers.
The burden of tech-debt insidiously finds its way into OSS stacks, so when evaluating change, don’t forget that one additional question, “Will this change make future upgrades harder?“Read the Passionate About OSS blog for more.