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Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Workaround

The following is a fictionalized composite meant to illustrate the difficulty of obtaining needed software in a bureaucratic system.

Part I. What's The Problem?

"Tell me what's happening. Why can't we get a proper system in place?"

"They told us to take it to the Committee."

"What Committee?"

"The one that makes decisions about these things."

"Why do you need a committee? Isn't this a basic off the shelf product?"

"Well we have another system that we use. They installed it last year."

"What system is that?"

"Oh, it's called Marbles. It works for anything."


"Yes, Marbles."

"Marbles isn't meant for that kind of function. It's a completely different animal."

"I know, we told them."


"Well they said to write up our requirements."

"Did you do that?"

"Yes, here." 

A piece of paper is produced. With bullets.

"Those are requirements for the kind of system you used to use."

"Yes, it worked fine."

Part II. The Manager's Dilemma

Right. The old system worked fine. Just like the new one. 

Except we had no hard data on--
  • How many requests? Week to week? Year over year?
  • What types of requests? 
  • How fast were they fulfilled? Were they on time? Did we prioritize?
  • How happy were the customers? Or would they claim that we missed a requirement, one added in the hallway during a conversation about weekend golfing and scope?
  • How about the employees? How was morale? What was the division of labor?

On to the Committee. Which went about as well as one would imagine.

Part III. The Post-Game Discussion

"You went to the Committee? Why?"

"What was our choice?"

"Oh, man." 

He guffawed a loud guffaw.

"And what did you say?"

"I outlined the business requirements just like they told me to."

"Let me guess...they told you that Gus is in charge of this one."

"That's right."

"And that you should wait until he and the team come up with the Big Solution."

"How did you know?"

"Welcome to the Organization. I'll see what I can do."


* Note: All opinions my own.