Written by Ian Sharp PhD on October 1st, 2021
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I think this is a great way of communicating SAAS (Software as a service) as if it were a timeshare. In some ways they're the same, but in other ways, they're different.
SAAS gives you a taste of the luxury you probably can't afford, but you get to enjoy anyway - much like a timeshare. Can't afford to build or buy an intercoastal luxury villa? No problem. As long as you're willing to share the space with other people, we can bring the price right down to an affordable rate.
Or maybe you can afford a multi-million dollar high-rise, but don't want to wait 3 years to have it built? Don't worry. We have one you can sell to people right now. Get them moved in and paying rent today!
Will they love it? Trust me, they're gonna love it. Feel that? Those are real digital synthetic fibers. Take it from me, you don't want analog, it cracks, wears out... nothin' but trouble.
Our low cost service fee covers all the maintentance. Trim the hedges? No way. Dust the database? Not even. Not here, not ever. You see, it's because it's all taken care of for you. Believe me, you're gonna want it that way.
More similarities between software and timeshare follow. Sometimes I look on Crunchbase to estimate time and materials to build telemedicine platforms. Last I looked, it takes about 8 years (usually after a few acquisitions/changes) and between $30 million to $800 million. That's more time and money than a luxury apartment complex in Miami.
I've talked to a lot of great folks in my life - many befuddled investors throughout my career that might wonder why it takes longer and costs even more to build software - something invisible - than it does to make a luxury apartment in downtown Miami.
I get it. You don't have to ship in lumber or precious metals to make software. But, there are many reasons where software and real estate do not share parallels. Analogies break down really fast at a more granular level. However, here's two of my best explanations as to "why" - in order to explain the reality we all observe. Why does it take more time and why does it cost more money?
#1. Software projects are more dynamic than luxury buildings. Imagine you're building a high-rise. You hammer all the way up to floor 10 of a 20. Now the investors or group is like,
"Oh wait! We MUST have a helipad mounted on the side of the building"
You look up from your nail and hammer and are like
"What?...That'll topple the whole building..."
Resulting in massive slow down or a total tear down. Lay a new foundation. Start a new project.
I don't know how to build a sky scraper. I imagine if you did and were working on this example project, you'd say "that's preposterous". Or maybe you'd say "yeah, stuff like that does happen but its not quite that wild"
I 100 percent guarantee you this is exactly what happens in software projects. Not only that, but over and over, again and again. You might constantly be building to floor 10, just to start again. This happens so often, I could say with certainty "its happening right now" and I would be right. Somewhere in the world it is happening right now.
#2. Do yourself a favor and read "The mythical man-month" by Frederick Brooks. Or at the very least get the summary from this Wikipedia page. Mythical-man month Scope Creep (a very dry and informative video can be found here) is just one aspect of the mythical-man month. The mythical-man month was edited and published in the 80's - and like most things made in the 80's it's an outstanding piece of work.
Decades later the human monkey brain has not shown much evolution and this book is just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago. We all still end up in the same situations on repeat.
And just a tiny addition to all this, I propose that perhaps that software is "invisible" plays a role in stake holder decision making. If you can't see the wild fluctuations of instability your changes cause.... then why not make even more changes?
Lastly, to try and bring this "home" for you. If keeping a "completely done and functional" software product were like keeping a "completely done and move-in ready home", the only way this would be possible would be if small superficial parts of your house were being removed and/or changed weekly without your knowledge or consent.
Then every 6 months to a year larger more infrastructurally relevant and critical parts were being altered and removed - without your knowledge or consent.
Then every 5 years or so your entire house was moved into a different climate and ecosystem entirely.
So much software, operating system and kernel (which allows the software to run at all) is open-source. We can be thankful that these unthanked invisible people maintain so much of the software that we get to enjoy for free. And every week (multiple times daily actually) open source is getting updated. We could pretend this is just the superficial parts of your house. Even though sometimes its not.
Every 6 months a new version of iOS comes out. Sometimes your previous code works and sometimes it doesn't. Enough said.
Every 5 years? Security protocols. New hacks. Different intrusions. Different environment for protecting your home. In honesty this happens constantly, but larger shifts are going to happen every 5 years or so. Your "house" is sitting in a completely different eco-system. Pretend global warming started fluctuating more and you kept using the same Miami villa in Antarctica.
So to wrap this up, in a way - I sell software timeshares. They are luxurious and available right now. I keep them as pristine and convenient as I can.
Do you get to actually own the luxury villa? No, you you never own the villa or the software. When you stop paying service fees, you have to move out.
But for my software, unlike in timeshare, I won't force you to sign a life-long monthly payment contract that you can't get out of.
See how to get out of a time share's maintenance fees Here. Also you don't have to sell your software to get out of your software-as-a-service contract Why people are selling time shares for $1
I have integrity and a one-click cancellation button for all signed up members. I don't believe in making people pay for a service they aren't using, can't afford or don't want. So that's how my software as a service is NOT like buying a time share.
But if my software as a service gets you what you need:
I'm an academic, an entrepreneur and I believe in my product.
There's a lot of good that could be done for the world that is stuck
in the minds of people working in academia and in hospitals.
I'm trying to hammer home, they don't need money to start changing the world, often the first step of what they need is software.
Step inside your