Flipping through the C++ FQA, the phrase "from a business perspective" popped up a number of times and it occurred to me how often I have heard that phrase or something like it to refer to the needs of the management as opposed to the needs of a programmer. In fairness, I must also add that the author of that fine document is semi-quoting from the C++ FAQ. As I stared at those words, something jumped out at me: when it comes to tech, there really isn't any such thing as a "business need" because the geeks and the suits ultimately want the same thing.

What kinds of things do we find in the "business perspective"? Well, how about these:

  • Economy of price - we need to keep costs down in order to increase our margin
  • Economy of time - closely intertwined with economy of price, but still separate in that we want to get our product to market ASAP, even aside from price, to help grab up marketshare
  • Capability - it must do whatever it is that we need it to do

That should pretty much cover it. The friction between the two groups does not come from these basic wants. Developers do not want to work longer on a project than is necessary. By and large, they want to do it and move on.

About the only time I see that there is a real collision, is when developers try to make their own jobs a little more interesting. Even here, we see that this is mostly unconscious. The developer trying to interestify the job usually believes consciously that they are solving some problem that is stalking the whole project. This is hardly unique to the developer side of the equation as we (or, at least I) have seen the business types getting all distracted by shiny little trinkets.

So, then, at the end of the day, the friction seems to come less from the core concerns (which are, more or less, shared by both parties) but how they are perceived. But the phrase "business perspective" is a lead-in to a pack of nonsense.