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97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know by Richard Monson-Haefel

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Chapter 64. The ROI Variable

George Malamidis is a software engineer working for TrafficBroker in London. Before that, he was a lead consultant and technical lead at ThoughtWorks. He has helped deliver critical applications in a variety of domains, from networking to banking to Web 2.0.

George Malamidis
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EVERY DECISION WE MAKE FOR OUR PROJECTS, be it technology-, process- or people-related, can be a viewed as a form of investment. Investments come associated with a cost, which may or may not be monetary, and carry trust that they will eventually pay off. Our employers choose to offer us salaries in the hope that this investment will positively affect the outcome of their venture. We decide to follow a specific development methodology in the hope that it will make the team more productive. We choose to spend a month redesigning the physical architecture of an application in the belief that it will be beneficial in the long run.

One of the ways of measuring the success of investments is by rate of return, also known as return on investment (ROI). For example, "we anticipate that by spending more time writing tests, we will have fewer bugs in our next production release." The cost of the investment in this case is derived from the time spent writing tests. What we gain is the time saved from fixing bugs in the future, plus the satisfied customers experiencing better-behaved software. Let's ...

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