Friday, July 22, 2005

Yet another twist in the road…

I worked from home today, always a nice break from the 50 minute commute (each way) to the client site.

As usual I was having a stellar day. For whatever reason I really get a lot more done when I’m able to sit here, in my office, at my PC, than whenever I’m anywhere else. I suppose it could have to do with ever single tool and utility I’ve created over the years is here, or, that I’m just more focused for some reason, regardless, I was having a very productive day.

Then, at about 4:00pm I received an email fro my project manager, and the entire sync project I’ve been working on since March is being “re-scoped”. For those of you who don’t know, that’s about the same as saying we’re going “back to the drawing board”. Talk about letting the wind out of your sails! She was upbeat however, as always, making it clear it was in industry decision and not the result of our work so far.

I can’t help but thinking that it’s a mistake to go back at this point. That they were so close to having a system that would work, short term, and that could be expanded over the next year or so to incorporate all the additional items they really need.

Well, it’s not my call, nor is it my client’s call, it’s an industry deal we’re working on, so if they (the industry representatives) want to revamp the project it’s entirely within their scope to do so. I can’t help thinking though, if they’d just waited 4 more weeks, until we hit preliminary testing, most, if not all of their concerns would have slipped away.

Such is the nature of the contract life though. We’re never really ‘in the mix’, more facilitators of the deliverables.

I’m so glad I didn’t have to be outside today though… the last I checked the heat index was still at 104… like it was from about 1:30 this afternoon. In that kind of heat it takes about half of the trip home for my car to cool down enough to approach comfortable! Instead, I’ve enjoyed the AC in the house, and am now listening to the approach of the afternoon thundershower we’ve been promised!

I’ve got some plans for the truck this weekend, but maybe half days (mornings) and then I’ll tackle some ‘interior’ house projects (where there’s AC) in the afternoons.

I’m also tossing around some thoughts on another series of memories posts, hopefully I can get something written and posted over the weekend.

We’re pretty busy making final plans for the trip up North as that time is rapidly approaching, and I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of my old friends again!

I’ll be seeing Whit, and Mitch and Jack for sure, I’m hopeful though that I’ll be able to hook up with a few more as well! I know my Mom and Andy are planning to come up to the lake for at least one day, and possibly one (or more) of my siblings will make their way up as well. I’m pretty much playing it by ear, like I always do with vacations. I’m a sort of have a couple “want to do’s” and let the rest just happen, type of vacation person.

Maybe it’s because so much of the rest of my year revolves around goals, plans, deadlines and fitting things to the rules other have, that I enjoy no plans, goals or itineraries when I’m on vacation.

My ideal vacation is similar to the one Maryan and I took a few years ago. We knew we’d be gone 14 days, our general ‘destination’ was Denver and the Rockies, and that we’d be meeting up with my biker buddy Tim and his wife Donna in Kansas City on the way. Other than that we really had no plans at all. No reservations… just us, the bike, some clothes, convenience items and the road.

We still talk about how much fun that trip was!

I think I should write a story about that trip for y’all… what do you think?


Karyn Lyndon said...

I agree with you about vacations having very loose itineraries...but frankly, right now, (the heat index is about that in Texas, too) riding on the back of a motorcycle sounds like torture!

Spirit Of Owl said...

A motorcycle ride is surely the best when it's hot? Anyway, sure you should write it up Bill!

Rescoping is a mystery, isn't it? There's so many complaints that software isn't delivered on time, but it's clearly more to do with goal posts being moved by the software purchasers than any other issue. And they are deaf to any advice! Ah well, good luck with it all!

Bill said...

Karyn - Riding in this kind of heat, especially considering we always ride in our leathers, can be a sort of torture...particularly if you have to be in the interstate at all!

Spirit - It's actually best when 'warm' like mid-80's or so.

The rescope came out of a meeting yesterday, where some of the things we've been telling them since March, actually 'came together' I think.

The sad part is, we're extremely close to their concerns being totally unfounded. We've spent a ton of time analyzing the data stream, and have an excellent plan for initially matching data, and then identifying problems that then numbers of actual problems would be less than 5% of the actual records.

A mystery for sure, user testing would have resolved so much of this.

Firehawk said...


I think that we all produce better work when on "our own turf". Everything is where we need it, all the peripherals are familiar...

I suppose that all contract work, and even the tasks one gets assigned each day, can sometimes become just "digging wholes and filling them back in". You try not to get to wrapped up in that element of things. Just keep moving and think positively about that ham and cheese on rye you're going to have for lunch.

I agree with you, man. Riding is really not fun at 90+. I don't think much is, other than lounging in cool water with palm fronds waving overhead.

It was pretty awful today, heat-wise. The big display at the car dealership said 99, but the humidity was thick. Riding around in the non-A/C pickup was pretty sweaty.

I like your weather station there on the side of the main screen, BTW. Cool.

Good luck on all your projects.

Cylithria™ said...

Yep yep yep, You need to write a story about that trip for us Bill. sorry to hear about the frustrations of re-scoping, but I was glad to hear you were'nt out in black flag conditions working on the truck!! Hope all is well with you and Maryan And lookie, I FINALLY spelled her name right. (Sorry Maryan, that second n always wants to force it's way on the screen...)

Have a great weekend you two!

Bill said...

Firehawk - Fortunately, most of this gig has not been the 'dig holes and fill them in' that so many really are. I'm still a bit hopeful that an entire rescope can be avoided.

I'm with you on the cool water and palm fronds... when do we leave!!

Yeah the heat this summer is just crazy... across the nation... I was just watching a report on the western states... no break for you folks either!

The goos news is... fall is just short of 60 days away!!

Cyli - Don't feel bad, that extra 'n' seems to find its way out for a lot of folks! I've been 'puttering' with the truck, but it's just too hot, I'd need to get some AC out there just to be able to have proper working times with paint and plastic... so, I'm looking for more inside pursuits!

Comfort Addict said...

Jeez, Bill, it must be something in the air.

My project has been a scope nightmare lately. As the technical lead, I assembled extensive functional specifications (300 pages plus). I followed the corporate project management methodologies (classic PMI phasing, getting signoffs and reviews all along the way). Now, the customers claim they didn't understand (actually didn't even read) what they were signing and want to radically extend the project.

This is even more tragic because it is a fixed-price project, mostly outsourced off shore. I urged (almost begged) upper management not to go this route because this particular group of customers is notorious for the behavior they are exhibiting now. I was told to do it anyway. I tried to take the steps above to give the project the best chance for success but they didn't work. Now, everybody's mad and I get the sneaking suspicion that the powers that be will find a way to pin the delays and the extra cost on me.

Things like this that make me want to leave the profession. I fear, however, that there are always more idiots around the corner so I might as well learn to live with the ones I've got.

Bill said...

CA - I fear you may be right!!

This project had a ton of technical specs too an RDD (Requirements Definition Document), an FSD (Functional Spec Document) a face to face meeting, and weekly conference calls along the way... We were actually working through the test cases document when this 'rescope' wrench happened.

I'm just glad we got sign off at every step here, so the client I'm working for isn't left holding the 'bag' on this.

I shared your concern initially... but the email I got indicated 'we' (as in the company and the team members) were not being 'blamed' here, but that the committee had decided the plan needed to be altered.

I think we need to take these steps on all projects. A rework here, is far simpler to pull off than one where 80+% of the application code has been written.

I have to give my manager a lot of credit though, her first request was that everyone stay calm, and see where this rework takes us. She also made it clear the chair of the committee had told the group we'd only been doing exactly what had been agreed to.

I hope your (and my) worst fears don't materialize!

Like you, I've thought more about leaving the profession in the past several years than in all my previous years combined.

The truth is though, I don't what else I could get paid to do, that would bring me as much day to day satisfaction!!

It's just a fact of life for us developers, that scope is going to change, and creep. Our task, I think, is to find ways to amnage the changes (and creep) as effectively as possible.

Jaws said...

Would love to hear a story. I know what you mean when your in your work zone.. easier to focus.

ANother thing.. its been humid as heck here in Va too.. temp and AC are competing head to head.

Bill said...

Jaws - stay tuned, stories are on the horizon!! THe heat index is actually below 90 right now, for the first time in a week! Must have been the rain that just blew through...

Thanks for stopping by!

RealLady said...

Hey Cyli! don't worry about the extra "n" - Bill is also guilty! the thought is what's important :)

Bill, thanks for all the hard work you put into our many inside "projects" this weekend. Greatly appreciated! :)- I'll have to spend more time expanding the "honey-do" list! ~Me

Bill said...

RL - You're very welcome.. it was my pleasure! Besides.. it was much cooler inside!!