What would you do?

I currently have to convince a manager why an open source program that I use on a daily basis is just as good as the closed source application that does the same thing, except that we pay for it.

This issue is not so much about the individual products, which is why they are not named, but more about the mindset that it can only be good if you pay for it. The school of thought currently employed is that since we have the site license, we can use it without regard to cost (the university wide site license is paid for by someone else's budget).

This is just a minor frustration that I have encountered, and I was wondering what other people have done in this situation.

My fear is that once we start depending on the closed source software, the University will be unable to stop paying for the site license, because there are now actual legitimate users. If they re-evaluated and we were the only people using the tool, then we would incur a real (sizable) cost for everyone.


I found the way to get my way from any institution is to learn to express what I want in their language.

What does your manager want from the application? I doubt its just about "If its free it can't be good." You manager is probably worrying about long term support, someone on the phone to back him/her up if there's trouble and possible issues such as PCI and HIPAA compliance issues. Perhaps the company that sells the application also sells training and certification as well. That's a big deal to a manager. You need to get the full picture, not just compare the two applications feature for feature.

Find out what the manager wants, the rest will follow.

John already gave some aspects of your managers thoughts. Being someone of that kind, too - I sometimes have to decide the same way as your manager did. You need the full picture to judge about his decision, not just "your" part, even if it's the more important part for you :)

As an example MS Visio or Dia. Dia is capable of many things and you are able to draw all the network specific stuff with it. It's a horror in terms of user experience, however you can get your job done with it. The tool itself is GPL licensed, the file format is compressed XML - all should be good, and the best: it's free. But...

Maybe your manager thought more in this way: All the consultant agencies use MS Visio, maybe he has to provide charts/drawings/network things to his boss and he wants it in Visio - who is doing the transformation part?
If he wants to help you with a new colleague with similar skills in networking (e.g.), will he find one which is capable of using your tool? He might also think (like John mentioned) that finding someone with the proper skillset for the job is easy so he tries to introduce a standard. He can send people to trainings to have them tought the rest.

Usually such decision are more than just "I don't want person a using...". What you should do is taking the challenge. YOUR skills are important, not just the tools you are using. If you can handle the newer tools he will recognize you and will ask you about your opinion in the future. That's my 2 cents.

So - try to get the full picture - at least, don't be too angry about him, there is more in life than wasting time about decisions which can't be changed.

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This page contains a single entry by leonard published on December 11, 2009 10:29 AM.

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