IT Management Advice from the Last Industry Downturn


I don't know who Stephan is and his blog does not tell me. But his latest post, Six Reasons Why My VC Funded Startup Did Fail, has an interesting message for you from two perspectives:

  • you as an IT staffer, and
  • you as an IT staffer who thinks he or she has a good business idea based on software.

(Note: I repeat the main point of the blog post below because Stephan's link fails a lot, too. That may be because the blog appears to be associated with a new product in beta at a site called reposita.org. I hope Stephan is not involved in that project.)

"So the most important thing is to sell -- a fact lots of startups forget. And we did too. After much thought it comes down to these six reasons why we failed (beside the obvious one that the VC market imploded when we needed money and no one was able to get any funding):
  1. We didn't sell anything
  2. We didn't sell anything
  3. We didn't sell anything
  4. The market window was not yet open
  5. We focused too much on technology
  6. We had the wrong business model"

Stephan's blog post is really about starting a new company. If you want to start your own business, heed his apparently hard-earned advice. Many of you may be thinking of such a thing in a down economy. That's not a bad way to think, since many of the best ideas rise out of adversity. But heed his message: despite the charming promise of the movie Field of Dreams, if you simply build it, they most likely won't come.


The second subtler message may be harmful to the dreamers, but put yourself first.


If you are sticking with your day job as an IT manager or staffer, don't bet a major project--or even spend a lot of time--on software from a business that is making Stephan's mistakes. In a down economy, there is less room for error.


It's not as fun as being the first guy to choose a new technology, but the status quo may be the best bet until the economy rebounds. The second best bet may be acquiring the least amount of software required to accomplish your task from one of the industry leaders. The SAPs, Oracles, Microsofts, IBMs and so forth of the world will be in a wild "let's make a deal" mode for the duration. In the short term, IT acquisition will be more about your negotiating skill and less about the latest greatest technical whizbang.


Or as we said a few weeks ago, "In IT in 2009/2010, It'll Be about Jobs and Budgets."