July 10, 2011

When professional services and software mix

I blogged a little last year about the rewards and challenges of combining professional services and software in a mature company’s business model. My main example was Oracle. But other examples from Oracle’s history might have been equally instructive. For example:

*Revenue recognition rules were rather different back then. Multi-million payments or guarantees for ports could be recognized as lump-sum revenue up front.

The benefits for a young software company of being in the professional services business include:

The disadvantages of professional services generally boil down to various forms of defocus; you can screw up your development schedule, your development priorities, your sales priorities, your partnering efforts, your market positioning, your burn rate or just about anything else.

Many software companies pursue substantial professional services when they’re young. Many don’t. Both strategic choices can make sense.

Comments

5 Responses to “When professional services and software mix”

  1. Cloudera and Hortonworks | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on July 10th, 2011 10:13 pm

    [...] and cons of professional services efforts at young software companies Categories: Cloudera, Hadoop, Hortonworks, IBM and DB2, MapReduce, Open source, Yahoo  [...]

  2. Vaughan Merlyn on July 28th, 2011 2:41 pm

    I’ve always strongly believed that for most software companies, they have to master the services side of the business as well as software. It’s not just a question of economics and the business model – it’s also a question of “delivering solutions”, as corny as that sounds!

    But, as you note, being great at both software and services is a very tough balancing act. Each draw upon different gene pools and pull on the business model in different ways that are tough to blend. But, for most cases, getting this balance right is an important discipline and a way to increase profitability and the chances for long term success.

  3. Judy Ferguson on August 27th, 2012 1:01 pm

    As a retired database designer/project manager for the Gov’t from 1987 to 2001, I experienced the evolution of Ingres and Oracle. My preference of the two was clearly Ingres. I found it’s pursuit of the ideal 4GL development language and forms development was fast, virtually trouble free and highly productive. In an attempted development conversion to Oracle, it was clear that the cost of ongoing support for Oracle would be prohibitive. The classes I attended boasted that Oracle was a “Marketing Company”. This was a rediculous assertion when the focus was training system developers and managers. During conversion, it was clear that current and long-term costs were going to be prohibitive in the area of staffing and support, and I urged my contractor (B.P.A.) to stay with Ingres. I wonder how much money has been thrown away by corporations migrating to Oracle when Ingres was a great low-cost two man operation(with the exception of occasional minor programming requirements). I have developed databases at NASA-Ames for G.E. & Lockheed, Pacific State Marine Fisheries and a data warehouse at University of Washington for Fisheries & River data in the Columbia Basin. All, large (jumbo)databases.

  4. Oracle and IBM — strategic context | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on October 11th, 2012 12:36 am

    [...] has remained more aggressive in professional services than Oracle [...]

  5. Oracle’s evolution — overview | Software Memories on July 30th, 2013 9:07 pm

    [...] also finally got some traction, albeit with a long way still to go. And most interesting to me, Oracle triumphed with a blend of product and professional services efforts in a way that hasn’t been seen before or [...]

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