20 Dec 2019

Case study writing: make a choice

Faced with case study writing, it’s all too tempting to report what the customer said. But is the customer always right?

Take a case study sparked off by an ‘enforced upgrade,’ moving from out-of-support software (which works perfectly well) to a new version. The typical customer (often the CIO) will say “We needed to upgrade.”

Nope. No-one needs to do anything. It is always a choice.

The vendor did not enforce or compel the upgrade. The customer could run the old software. In reality, did the customer therefore choose to upgrade because running out-of-support software was too risky, or perhaps too expensive?

Even then, there is no Law of the Universe that bans expensive, risky software. We want to know why the expense and risk was so great that the customer chose the upgrade.

Risk brings other consequences, such as regulatory fines or possible reputational damage, which might threaten company finances or drive customers away.

Maybe emotion provides the real motivation: “If the company goes under, I lose my job. With two ex-wives and a bartender to support, I want to keep my job. Risky, expensive software threatens the company which threatens my job, so I guess it’s time to upgrade.”

No-one *needs* to do anything. It is *always* a choice.