|Research, training, consultancy and software to reduce IT costs|
The MA2 story 1: why we bet the farm
Sometimes you need to make big decisions to take a product forward.
Over the past few weeks I have outlined the advantages of general-purpose applications that can deliver multiple solutions. I now want to tell the story of how we accidentally created one.
My company, Metrici, provides solutions for assessment and analysis. Our main product, Metrici Advisor, is a web-based service for running assessments and analysing the results. We initially used Metrici Advisor to assess IT systems. However, we designed the product to deal with any types of assessment, and it has also been used for other requirements, such as information security assessments and employee reviews.
Over the years, we recognised some weaknesses in Metrici Advisor. The user interface is designed for use by consultants, and is too hard for casual users. Although new solutions can be configured using only a browser, it is too difficult. There is inadequate support for representing the structure of the things that are to be assessed, such as organisations, or IT architecture. It has no support for assessment processes, for example telling you how far through a data collection exercise you are. Some functions are inconsistently implemented. For example version control is available for the definition of assessments, but not for the assessment data itself.
We needed to fix these problems. A number of factors influenced us.
Given our personal backgrounds, the requirements, and commercial realities, we decided to explore whether we should completely replace the core data structures and processing of Metrici Advisor. We were not thinking of building a totally general-purpose application, but a much more flexible engine for delivering any type of assessment and analysis solution.
From earlier work, we thought that one possible approach would be to combine the real data and metadata into the same structure, and maintain both through the same user interface. We put together a proof of concept, to see if we could build this and whether it would work. We could, and it did.
After a lot of thought, we took the plunge. We bet the farm and decided to use the new structure as the basis for the next version of Metrici Advisor, MA2.
Next week I will explain how we got on: burnt-out, friendless and broke.Next: The MA2 story 2: burnt-out, friendless and broke
Minimal IT: research, training, consultancy and software to reduce IT costs.