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How Elon Musk Approaches IT At Tesla 231

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-this dept.
onehitwonder writes "In short, they build it themselves. When Tesla Motors needed to improve the back-end software that runs its business, CEO Elon Musk decided not to upgrade the company's SAP system. Instead, he told his CIO, Jay Vijayan, to have the IT organization build a new back-end system, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company's team of 25 software engineers developed the new system in about four months, and it provided the company with speed and agility at a time when it was experiencing costly delivery delays on its all-electric Model S."
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How Elon Musk Approaches IT At Tesla

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  • Re:A risky gamble (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gaudior (113467) on Monday November 04, 2013 @03:42PM (#45328935) Homepage

    How many SAP installs come in at or below budget? How many are actually completed at all, let alone on-time?

  • by nightsweat (604367) on Monday November 04, 2013 @03:42PM (#45328949)
    Maintaining it another. One of the hardest things to do is keep up with tax and regulatory changes in your software. You have to be aware of a change before you can implement it.
  • Re:A risky gamble (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbvb (32836) on Monday November 04, 2013 @03:42PM (#45328951) Journal

    I disagree.

    Some of the most successful IT shops I've ever worked in have been 'build' vs. 'buy' shops. They get tremendous cost advantage from having internally-developed tools that exactly meet the needs of their business.

    Done right, it works very, very well.

  • Re: A risky gamble (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jd2112 (1535857) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:02PM (#45329199)
    Risk vs. reward. What have you gained from not wearing seatbelts other than perhaps a few less wrinkles on your clothes?
  • Re:Now Open It (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dysmal (3361085) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:07PM (#45329273)
    Everyone knows of a company that is implementing SAP. Can anyone name a company that has completed their implementation of SAP?
  • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:34PM (#45329645)
    I mean, Tesla's core competency is definitely cars, but it's not like they're unfamiliar with software development. It's quite different rolling your own when you're just an auto maker with no history in software. Not only do Tesla's cars require more software and firmware than the traditional "competition", but they also have leadership which is absolutely competent in software development.
  • Re: A risky gamble (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:35PM (#45329657)

    Risk vs. reward. What have you gained from not wearing seatbelts other than perhaps a few less wrinkles on your clothes

    I have learned that most people are utter shit at estimating risk. Especially people who think they're smart and are good at it, but don't actually do the math. We spend trillions to prevent terrorism, but next to nothing to prevent drunk driving. It's because people think that risks they have control over are far less than those they don't, so drunk driving is "Well, I'll be driving, and I'm a good driver, so the risk must be low", and terrorism is "I'll be strapped into the plane and not in control... so it must be much, much worse."

    The same kind of thinking applies to rolling your own software, instead of buying it. People are not objective about risk. They flat out suck at it. As for me... what I've learned is to wear my goddamned seat belt, because I read the statistics and know that there's about a 1 in 5 risk of getting into a car accident every year, and the seat belt means a 90% reduction in probable injury -- Without it, I'm just hamburger through the window.

    Which is like most companies when they decide to cook their own complex software... they usually wind up paying more, but because they never analyze their own decisions, they, like you, think it's actually less.

  • Oversell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by recharged95 (782975) on Monday November 04, 2013 @05:00PM (#45330009) Journal

    Sure they built it in 4 months...
    But likely spent the last 9 years figuring out why SAP was bad. Hence they knew what they wanted (by now)... Hire some good s/w developers and voila... you'll have a better system from the get-go. That's business systems 101: it's all about domain knowledge. Sure they built it in 4 months, but I see it took them 8.6 years to create it... by understanding why the SAP solution sucked and the experience on what worked and what didn't.

    If they started from scratch with no SAP experience.... well I'm sure we'd see a different story. The same story as Oracle, MS, HP, IBM, and SAP (i.e. their in-house systems suck big time).

    Now some new MBA graduate will disagree: now new systems can be built in 4 months, muck did it... then again...

  • Re:SAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Monday November 04, 2013 @05:06PM (#45330095)

    The issues that a lot of people really don't get.
    Products like SAP are great if you do your business the same way as everyone else.
    That said. Businesses all tend to run differently thus SAP becomes more of a problem then it helps.
    However Suits like the Term Enterprise software and signing big checks, it makes them feel like they are running a big company, and it feels good to know they are running an Enterprise standard software, they probably have been burned by the single developer tool that becomes unmaintainable after he leaves so they jump to a full commercial system.

    However for the most part if you have a good development team on staff, you usually can make something better, faster and cheaper than SAP. Because you can focus on what is important and leave out the extra stuff. But as I stated your company will need a development team, not a single guy who is the lone coder.

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