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Analytica 279

would be late and could not be accurately scheduled. At least one of the developers became so frustrated by the uncertainty that he left the company. Adam later estimated that Reflex could have shipped six months earlier if charting had been omitted from the first release.

In view of the product slips, the board regarded the team as grossly incompetent and put incredible pressure on its members. Eric made the following observations about the schedule:

We really didn't know it was a two-year project. It was easier to deliver the bad schedule

news in six two-month slips rather than a year. In retrospect, the development team did

an amazing job by getting the product out in two years.

Two years is the standard gestation time2 for complex software products, especially if

they've never been done before.

Adam offered the following comments about a company's first software product and its evolution:

In April 1984, the CEO was replaced with a former divisional general manager of Data General who had no experience in developing or selling software products. At this point, the company required its second round of financing. Despite the fact that the product was behind schedule (it had not yet started internal [alpha] testing), the firm continued to grow until it reached forty-four people. The head of sales, who came from Lotus, was hired to introduce Reflex using the 1-2-3 model. Reflex's product position was changed by Dan Rosenthal, a marketeer, who redefined the product as an analytic database instead of a new class of decision-support tool. This repositioning made Reflex comprehensible to potential users and gave them a basis for comparing it with other products.

In 1985, the protracted third round of financing occurred, bringing the total financing to about $7 million. Marketing, training, support, and sales personnel were now being let go, because it was costing the company about $400,000 per month to stay


2. Ashton Tate's Dbase W version 4.0 was shipped in October 1988 with bugs and was unusable. Version

4.1 was finally shipped in the summer of 1990. In the process, the company's president lost his job. Lotus

1-2-3 version 3.0 was almost two years late from its announced availability date, and Windows 3.0 from

Microsoft, which was introduced in the spring of 1990, was over a year late.

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