Thursday, May 05, 2005

The contract… yeah Code and other stuff!

When I started this blog, I’d intended it to be mostly thoughts about the various contracts I work, the sad, frustrating, enlightening, funny and other sometimes interesting experiences. I’ve taken quite a few side trips lately, mostly because 1) I’ve been thinking about how I came to be doing this, instead of a ‘real’ job and 2) I’m currently on the best contract I’ve ever had.

There’s not much in the way of bad management, political in-fighting or any of the other BS here that’s usually so prevalent. In fact, the company is well organized and managed. Not to mention they actually appreciate the folks that work there!

With that in mind, I thought I’d relate some of the more recent happenings.

Take last Friday. The project manager took us all out to lunch, everyone, her whole full time staff, me (the sole contractor), and her boss. The occasion? One of her staff was leaving her department to take a position in another. This merits a mention, because in my experience, this type of thing is simply rarely done.

In most cases, the best that would happen would be an email or memo of congratulations, and that, would be that. This was more a celebration of this person being promoted within the company. My boss obviously saw this as recognition of at least two things; her insight in hiring her in the first place and the company being a great place to work.

It’s just one example of the kind of leadership this company has in place.

Also last week, she asked me (while we were at the coffee machine) if I would mind staying on there through the end of the year. Again an almost unheard of request, normally a client extends a contract by 30, 60, 90 days not six or more months! It seems they see my participation in the pending D&B sync project as valuable, and have one or two other possible projects they’d like me to undertake.

Planning, something I find so rare in most companies today, is all over this one. They plan everything; even short 30 minute meetings are blocked out on everyone’s calendar. Every project gets a formal requirements document, followed by a formal spec document; each iteration of the documents reviewed and signed off on by all of those involved.

This leads to well planned projects with proper resource allocations that have a very good chance of being completed, on time and on budget. This is not to say that things don’t go wrong, they do, but when they do, what I’ve witnessed is a revisiting of the original documents, identification of the problem (or problems) and a team effort to define and deploy a solution that gets the project back on track.

All in all very, very unique in my experience!

Despite all of this, and how much I’m enjoying the contract, I still wish they’d hand me, or create, some ".Net" work! I’ve got so many new tools and utilities to deploy, and no where (that’s writing a check) to put them to use! I know I’ll get the opportunity, I should just be patient, etc., etc… However… I want to build some .Net applications NOW!

Other than that, not much new on the development front. The new project, while intricate, is pretty run of the mill stuff… I’m adding a ‘transactional’ piece so that, if and when this process is ported to Oracle Financials, there will be a transactional process to ‘upsize’. I’m re-writing a few reports to use laser printers instead of pre-printed forms and dot-matrix printers… again pretty standard stuff.

We’re closing in on phase I of the D&B sync process… I’ll be sending the first datasets off later this week, or early next week. Things should get tedious for a few days when the results come back, and then we’ll be into testing all of our new logic for the ‘ongoing’ processing… I’m looking forward to that!


Firehawk said...


Sounds like you've got a pretty solid group of people around you, man. That's not always something that can be said. Having a rapport with your supervisors and co-workers is golden. The primary reason I'm staying with the job I have (Computer Services in a library) is that I really like the people around me, and the whole organization is so cool. The job itself leaves something to be desired (money, advancement opportunities...), but I've been willing to stick it out because of the upside.

I wish I were a bit handier with the more technical side of software development, instead of being an adrift English major who just happened to know enough to fake it as a computer guy.

Anyway, thanks for the reading material. With Braleigh out of commission for some reason, your frequent posts and comments have been an absolute must.

Bill said...

Thanks Firehawk,

Yeah, this is a grade 'A' gig for sure. I've worked hundreds of development gigs over the years and this is the best I can recall it ever being. People are the key, even when the corporate vision and directions is right, it still boils down to people.

For what it's worth, I'm just an 'adrift Business major' who found he had an afinity for the 'puter thing.

I don't know where Braleigh wandered off to, hopefully she'll get back soon.

I enjoy your stuff Firehawk, you have a way of drawing the reader in with the 'twist' you put on the words... for me, it's always been an interesting read.

Thanks again for reading, and commenting, on my stuff.

Trevor Record said...

I know what you're talking about the contract extensions. Nokia wasn't willing to commit to anything longer than 3 months for like a year. At least now I've been hired by QA labs.

Bill said...

Trevor: Ain't contract life grand? Folks are always asking how I can do it, when I know the job will be over... I always respond with something like "at least I know *when* it'll be over"

Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Any of you IT geniuses know of any Oracle DBA's with Oracle financials experience looking for great opportunities in Reno, NV? Chris

Bill said...

Anonymous... If you email me with more specifics, I'll be happy to pass them along. I know a few excellent DBA's, all with Oracle financials experience (including myself)... I'm not interested in moving to Reno... well I don't think I am, but one of them might be.