Coding Horror

programming and human factors

The Great Enterprise Software Swindle

After nearly four years working for a Fortune 50 company, I am now completely convinced that the term "Enterprise", as applied to software, is synonymous with "crappy".

Clearly I'm not the only guy to notice the apparently linear price to bug ratio in the so-called "Enterprise" software I've been exposed to. It's an embarrassment. But it also seems to be a standard part of the business model for these companies. The rampant bugs in their Enterprise Software-- which we already paid millions for-- force us to contract with the "professional services" arm of said company, who then get to work busily fixing the bugs in their own product for $100/hour.

Worst of all, if your organization has used this Enterprise Software for a year or two, you've likely customized the heck out of it. The idea of a one-size-fits-all software package-- particularly one of this magnitude-- is laughable. And yet that's one of the illusions that drives sales of these packages in the first place. It's as if the salespeople watched one too many Warner Brothers cartoons, and they're expecting to get another delivery from ACME Corporation any minute now.

Wile E. Coyote and ACME Corporation

So, once you factor in natural inertia, plus the customizations required to get the functionality you paid for, the cost of conversion to a competing product is brutal. It's easy to get sweet-talked into yet another version of the devil you know, on the off chance that hey-- maybe this year it might not suck. As much.

It's madness. As far as I'm concerned, the word "Enterprise" is now so tainted that it's best used as an epithet. Dude, your software sucks so much, it's enterprise software.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Exchange and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: