Mothballing VLAT

August 13, 2015

Be deliberate.  It’s probably the thing I soapbox about second only to continuous feedback.  In line with practicing what I preach I have to make an announcement.  Recently in agreement with management I put VLAT in mothballs for the time being. What I want to do is explain why we drew the conclusion to mothball the project instead of further investing in or killing it and what that status means.

First I want to thank SEP for the time, resources, and attention it gave to VLAT.  It’s nice to know those you work for/with respect your ideas.

When I started VLAT SEP had 2 or 3 projects that would have been the kind of customer I thought of as the target market.  We had been doing those kinds of projects for years.  Something changed.  By the time i had VLAT in a beta ready state we had none.  After a year went by we had one potential project that didn’t work out.

The question i was left with, did the market change or is it a fluke for SEP?  I don’t know and that’s the problem.  Mobile development and web development are growing markets.  They are also currently bad fits for VLAT.  Desktop application development isn’t dead and probably isn’t going to be soon, but it’s not what SEP is doing today.

With no opportunity to wisely invest in learning we need to make some kind of decision.  The answer is to mothball.  How is mothballing different that waffling or postponement?  It’s something I struggled with.  My take is that killing the project requires proof that it is not a good investment.  I don’t believe that any of our data leads to that conclusion.  But if that’s the case shouldn’t we invest?  No, the data doesn’t strongly enough support the investment value yet.  The problem is that the cost of learning what we need to know has become too high.

For VLAT this means we have changed from an expectation of progress to an expectation of waiting.  It means that even the small effort of monitoring progress is too much.  Mostly, it means freeing up the resources claimed by the project.  I let my server cluster and weekly status meeting with the president go knowing that it increases the cost of a new opportunity.

The project isn’t dead.  If the right opportunity comes along we can reactivate the project.  It will just be harder, but it’s the right thing to do.