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How to Sell Enterprise Language Distributions to Your Boss
by Angie Hirata

Angie Hirata, August 9, 2010

Return on InvestmentIn working with Perl, Python, and Tcl developers in companies, many have a strong preference for using the ActiveState versions of these dynamic languages. Developers that use ActivePerl, ActivePython, and ActiveTcl appreciate how it saves them time by having easy access to pre-compiled modules through our package managers, and installers for a wide range of operating systems and platforms. However, a lot of their managers (or their managers’ managers) don’t have this same understanding. And when it comes to getting approval for enterprise-grade purchases (ActivePerl Enterprise, for example), developers often have a hard time explaining the value to the higher-ups.

Speak their language

The most important thing to remember about “selling” something to your managers and other stakeholders is to speak their language. Many of the approvers of IT or development purchases don’t understand or care about the technical nitty-gritty of Perl, Python, or Tcl.

What they care about is maximizing productivity (getting the most out of your time) and minimizing risk (especially in business or mission-critical systems). So if you’re a developer paid to create applications using Perl for your company, the company wants you to spend your time adding value to the business with the applications you create, not compiling binary modules. If Perl is used in mission-critical applications, they need to know that there are sufficient resources to manage and trouble-shoot the core applications.

Flooring Specialists Don’t Make Floorboards

If your manager was paying professionals to build or renovate a home, they would hire various builders and contractors like tilers, electricians, and flooring specialists. Each of those trades people would come to the job with the parts they need. The tiler would come with tiles, the flooring specialists would come with hardwood or other floorboards. The flooring guys certainly wouldn’t be expected to make the floorboards themselves by sourcing the wood, measuring it, chopping it, sanding it, and polishing it. They would have the finished floorboards ready to install, because that’s the value they provide... so they get their ready-to-use materials from their suppliers.

The same could be said for software developers. Employers expect developers to use their core competencies to build applications for the company, not to prepare the raw materials they need to do the building.

Show a Return on Investment

So when selling your higher-ups on the value of enterprise-grade language distributions to do your job, consider the amount of time spent by developers throughout your company on:

  • Compiling modules
  • Trouble-shooting problems with your builds
  • Getting version consistency across all your operating systems
  • Reviewing complex licensing terms for various modules to understand if and how you can use it in your company (whether your time or your legal departments’ time)

If the investment in an enterprise-ready language distribution is less than the time spent (and related dollar cost) building and configuring the application’s run-time environment, then the higher-ups will understand the value proposition, and go for the positive return on investment. And you’ll be able to spend your time on providing more value back to the company.

Need more help building your case? Learn more in this white paper, or angieh [at] activestate [dot] com?subject=ROI%20template%20spreadsheet%20(from%20blog)">email me for help using our ROI template spreadsheet.

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Angie Hirata is our VP, Sales & Marketing. Before joining ActiveState, Angie worked at several start-ups and large organizations including Maximizer Software, JustSystems, Eyeball Networks, Seagate Software, and SEI Industries. She holds a B.Comm from the University of British Columbia and a leadership certificate from the New York University School of Business.

Comments

2 comments for How to Sell Enterprise Language Distributions to Your Boss
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These are some very good tips and tricks. You seem to have your finger on the pulse on what managers want. Thank you for taking the time to provide us with this much needed information.

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