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In bidding a complex project for a client, I wanted a way to determine their reliance upon software. They have many people doing manual entry and Excel spreadsheets power many pieces as well as legacy code and some off the shlef solutions that do not interact in any way.

Its one thing to say "You need software to run your business" but how do you create a measure of this to be able to say something like "You are currently 68% reliant upon software" its time to take it seriously before the expanding complexity costs more to maintain than to re-write?

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Why do you use the systems-programming tag? – Anto Apr 13 '11 at 17:44

Reliance on software? Surely you're kidding. Unless you're working in mining, fishing, forestry or agriculture, it's usually 100%.

Turn the power off in the office and see how long they can work with flashlights and candles. Also, turn off everything on the factory floor that's not a light or a manual power tool.

Simply walk around and watch people work. If it involves electricity for anything more than power tools or lighting, there's a computer involved.

Take away their cell-phones, too, while you're at it.

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I think the issue that Scott has with your question is that without knowing at least the industry in question, the generic term "software" isn't sufficient. If instead you mean, their reliance upon home grown software vs COTS (commercial off the shelf), or free solutions then you have a bit more of a platform for a good question.

What I would consider is that they're probably only interested in the bottom line. Figure out which percentage of their business model functions without any computer interaction. If 100% of their daily business is computer free, but they use a financial suite to track expenses, then try to estimate how much that task would cost if they couldn't use the software. Add that amount to their yearly income, and recalculate it's percentage. It's going to be a swag no matter which way you shake it.

Anyways, best of luck on this one... I don't envy you :)

Adam Carstensen

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