Why Does Software Cost So Much?

“Why does software cost so much?” is an assertion masquerading as a question. The assertion that software is too expensive is part of a cost-containment ploy. The cynical notion that a good schedule is one that no-one has a prayer of achieving is another part of that ploy. The constant refrain that software developers are just not productive enough has only one purpose: to make software developers work harder. It is a goad, a goad that appears to work because software developers are sincere and professional and a little dopey.

The problem is our industry is over-goaded. The work of software development is largely incomprehensible. When you’re under pressure, your first response is to cut out extraneous activities. As the pressure increases, the only real option is to pay for speed by reducing quality. This comes, of course, at the very moment that companies are paying lip service to quality as never before.

Tom DeMarco, “Why Does Software Cost So Much”, Essay 1

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