How to Smell a Rat
When someone tells you that your organization has to do something "to stay competitive," but he or she can’t provide any direct link to sales, revenue, reduced expenses, or some other kind of money, be leery. This strategy applies to most technologies, including "business process optimization," test automation, XML, Web services, and Java. To paraphrase my colleague Mike Kelly, return on investment should be blazingly obvious. If it isn’t obvious, and your new friend has to go through some convoluted scheme to "prove" that the technology has a benefit, tread carefully.
Often, con artists offer some unbelievably huge amount of money, employment, or a promotion later in exchange for some of your money now. Unscrupulous software vendors and process consultants offer the same trade with productivity. My advice is the same as with any "get rich quick" scheme: Ask whether the effort invested and the expected returns are anywhere near realistic. Ask other people who have completed the training, certification, or education if the program has helped them personally or professionally. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I’ve been especially hard on several groups, waving generalities about con men and vendors. In fact, many people who work in technical fields have the best of intentions; they genuinely believe that what they’re selling will help people. In many cases, the EAI system will help the company—it just might not be worth the $5 million cash investment and three-year system conversion.