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Talking Point - The Perils of Getting What You Pay For

If you fly on planes you’ll no doubt be familiar with the Boeing 737 Max 8 crisis where two planes inexplicitly (at the time) crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia just a few months apart, with the combined loss of 346 souls who were on board the two aircraft.  Within days of the connection between the two tragedies being established, airline companies around the world cancelled flights using Boeing 737 Max 8 planes and grounded their Boeing Max 8 fleets.  While Air New Zealand doesn’t own any of these planes, New Zealanders booked on flights to Fiji on Boeing Max 8 planes raised enough concern for the Fijian airline flying into New Zealand to also pull the Boeing Max 8 planes they had in service.

When a plane crashes, no matter how big or small it is, a huge investigation kicks off immediately to establish the cause so that steps can be taken to fix the problem before it happens again, assuming of course that it wasn’t something that can’t be fixed, such as an act of terrorism (which is usually dealt with by increased airport security and surveillance and why most of us now dread the hassle of flying internationally).

It seems that everyone involved in an air disaster tries to find someone else to blame if it can, and money is usually the main driver in taking responsibility.  [As an aside, in the case of assessing compensation for airline crashes, the amount paid out is usually determined by how long the victim knew of the situation – the longer the victim knew they were doomed, the greater the payout to their families. Creepy huh?]

Stuff published an excellent article on 29 June 2019 concerning the cause of the Boeing Max 8 failures. It seems that at the crux of the problem was the fact that “…a company renowned for meticulous design (Boeing) made seemingly basic software mistakes leading to a pair of deadly crashes.”  The developing and testing of the software that effectively made the planes fly as designed was outsourced to temporary workers who were being paid as little as $US13 an hour.  Apparently, the subcontractors “…often came from countries lacking a deep background in aerospace – notably India.”

And this behaviour isn’t recent when it comes to aeronautics.  There is a well-known quote that has circulated over the years from John Glenn who was the first American astronaut to orbit the earth (back in 1958) “As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind - every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.”

It seems we take a long time to learn the cost (or should that be value) of a human life when money is involved.

Now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Expert and this blog?  Well quite a bit actually, as it illustrates how important getting (and paying for) the right level of expertise is when solving a problem that involves the development of software.  Yep, a bit tenuous I know, but very important if your business (and livelihood) depends on reliability and being ahead of your competition.

Take our flagship software product MoST as an example.  Expert started developing MoST at the very beginning of the Software as a Service (SaaS) era nearly 20 years ago and during that time it has been enhanced, improved, recreated and reborn many times.  Expert invested tens of thousands of hours to produce MoST and roll it out to our clients.  It’s been nurtured by Expert owners and staff and outsourcing the development or testing of it to off-shore ‘software engineers’ at $13 an hour would never cross our minds – we value it far too much to take a risk like that.

We know every component of MoST, every technical detail, every quirk, every feature, and while our Help files are probably not as comprehensive as Microsoft’s or Apple’s, if users want any actual help our developers and designers are just a phone call or email away, in the same time zone and speaking the same language (and not from a script).  In fact, MoST’s creator, Aaron, continues to work on successive versions of MoST and its components after dedicating most of his adult working life to creating this powerful infrastructure platform and its continual improvement.

While MoST is not a free, open source product, we’re very open about the true cost of using it.  Our security against hackers and scammers is world class and there are no hidden costs to actually make it work the way users need it to. 

And we don’t outsource it to developing countries, and we certainly don’t pay anyone $13 an hour!

If you’d like to know more about our MoST infrastructure platform contact us@expert.services or visit the MoST website.

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