Melissa Perri on Escaping The Software Build Trap

Melissa Perri (youtubeepisode page) lives at the cutting edge of software process design and runs a consultancy devoted to building great product leaders. This of course applies to non-software products but the day is approaching when there is no such thing as a non-software product. Listen to this episode and continue on your journey to being a better producer of software, either as a coder or as an enabler of the programmers that build the products your company sells!

For the insurance people in the crowd this is one of the most important shows I’ve done. Five years ago Marc Andreessen made the point (see here and a discussion here) that software is eating the world and elsewhere he’s made the point that there are three layered observations in this hypothesis. 
  1. First and most weakly: every product that can will become a software product.
  2. Second, therefore any company that makes these products needs to become a software company. 
  3. Third and most strongly, that in any industry, the winning company will be the best software company, not the best at any other function. So in fact, Marc suggests, software will become the most valuable part of every product. In an insurance context that means that software will be more important than underwriting, than customer relationships and expense management, independent of software.

True? We shall see.. but  wrestle with these ideas a bit before dismissing them!            

The bottom line is that software development is the key new skill and it is HARD to do. I like to joke that the customer satisfaction rate for policy management systems is 0 and that is probably the most damning statistic imaginable for the insurance industry. It presumes this delineation between the technology and business side of the company, as Melissa points out in the cold open of my interview with her. That’s not how a software company looks at things. To a software company, the software is the means of delivery and business processes spring up to support the software in places where it can’t (yet!) go. 

Melissa’s book is called Escaping the Build Trap and is a highly refined explanation for how to integrate advanced software development management practices into the organisational culture and decision making framework. 

So this episode is a key part of a long-running theme in this show: why is software hard and how can we get better at it? Listen in and learn with me!