Are you buying the software or the schema?

For many applications, the app isn't the interesting part.

If you’ve used enough Enterprise software, you probably noticed that they tend to have the same types of components:

Tables, forms, lists, maybe a few others.

What makes these applications different isn’t these components, but how they’re arranged and connected together.

And underlying that is the schema of the data that the application captures and displays.

This is the idea behind no-code and low-code development: If you’re just mixing and matching components, why would you need a keyboard?

But it also raises a question about that expensive enterprise software: If you’re mostly paying for the schema, is it really worth it?

Well, often the answer is yes.

Why?

Because schema development is hard.

And if someone else has figured it out already, that’s worth the price of the software.

This is also why low-code/no-code development isn’t always as easy as the vendors might have you believe - but that’s a side point.

Off-the-shelf software comes with a specific schema that it uses to organize your data.

If that schema matches the way your organization functions, you’re paying to avoid the time and energy needed to develop your own schema.

But if you can’t find software that fits, you’ll probably have to do the hard work yourself.