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Choosing the right technology for you project

Many of us have faced the challenge of choosing the optimal technology to develop a software product. The importance of this task cannot be underestimated. After all, the technology you choose will ultimately determine the funding that will be spent on development and have a decisive influence on the fate of the product itself. I know of some cases where choosing the wrong technology made a key and very labor-intensive internal system of a company virtually unsupported and it eventually led to the project being abandoned. And these types of situations are not that uncommon.

Many of us have faced the challenge of choosing the optimal technology to develop a software product. The importance of this task cannot be underestimated. After all, the technology you choose will ultimately determine the funding that will be spent on development and have a decisive influence on the fate of the product itself. I know of some cases where choosing the wrong technology made a key and very labor-intensive internal system of a company virtually unsupported and it eventually led to the project being abandoned. And these types of situations are not that uncommon.

Choosing which technology to use is done by a technical expert in a particular field of knowledge. In this article I do not plan to go into the specifics regarding this expert. We assume that he has his own technique which he uses to analyze and determine the best technology. I want to look at the person who has the final say when it comes to what will be used in the project as well as the primary responsibility and that is the project manager. Most likely the project manager is not a technology expert and is not able to fully assess the pros and cons of the solution the expert has recommended. This lack of technical knowledge must be compensated by managerial expertise that will allow him to make the right decision.

It is no secret that experts are very subjective in relation to different development technologies. They may be overly enthusiastic or completely reject them due to their actual experience and other factors such as their social circle, media and advertising influence and so on and so forth. Experiments have shown that people tend to overestimate the benefits of a certain technology they like and underestimate the downsides, costs and risks. The reverse is also true. If they donít like a particular technology they can exaggerate the risks and downplay the potential benefits. And letís not forget that people can pretty easily come up with a rational basis for their emotional beliefs.

To make sure that the expert has made his decision based on logical reasons and not feeling, it is useful to talk with him and see if he has any unhealthy emotions towards a particular technology. If during the conversation it becomes clear that the expert is just a strong supporter of a certain technology you have to request further arguments from him.

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This is based on a psychological law called the availability heuristic. If a person can quickly come up with a couple of arguments to support his point of view he begins to believe that his point of view is fair. Finding 3 to 6 arguments in support of an idea is quite easy. However if you ask him to bring 12 that is another matter. Each subsequent argument is more complex, and as a result the expert becomes much less confident in their point of view. A paradox. People seem to generate more arguments in support of their opinion, but because they are difficult to find, they eventually start to doubt what they said. Because at first it was easy and now it gets progressively difficult.

Generally speaking the main task of a project manager, when working with an expert, is to make sure that he understands the seriousness and urgency of the task, and looks for complex arguments in terms of the applicability or lack of applicability of a particular technology. It is useful to know that there are some situations when the expert might be less inclined to devote his full attention to the task:

  • When they are engaged in parallel tasks that require a lot of time
  • If they are new to the field, as opposed to the real experts
  • When they tend to trust their intuition too much
  • If they have the power In all these situations a person might not devote their full attention to the task.

Avoid these situations by explaining the importance of the task, actively engaging in conversation with the expert and asking him for additional arguments.

Alex Koretsky
Consultant in Project Management and Project Estimation Methods


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