- Come up with yet another list of principles of economics for IT, which has obviously been done
- Consider the ways that those ten principles show up in IT and software
It was the second path that made me think this series could be worthwhile. Each week we will go deeper into each, and they will get much more detailed as we go forward. We start simply this week, though.Back to the distinction for economics, “the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services…” we might adapt it to say more simply that economics is the study of transactions or the study of how we transact. To me, the study of how we transact with each other, engage with each other, make and fulfill promises to each other, sounds a lot like software production and the day-to-day function of an information technology organization. Consider the first principle, and maybe the easiest to discuss:
People face trade-offs.
That sounds simple enough.There are many common trade-offs cited in the production of software – speed vs. time vs. quality, scope vs. time vs. cost, etc. Here are some trade-offs we might not think about often:
- Every minute we spend learning one new technology we are not spending learning another one
- Every minute we spend maintaining broken software requirements we are not spending writing new valuable features
Trade-offs are not about what is right or wrong… they are just trade-offs. We all have scarce time, energy, money and opportunities… and opening one door closes others.There are many, many ways we face trade-offs: sometimes within teams, when budgeting, when managing and even in actions like attending a conference or a golf outing… Mankiw’s first fundamental economic principle applied to our domain. If this post triggers you to think of any, please offer your favorites to the community in the comments below.