Thursday, August 18, 2005

Have you ever...

I'm interrupting my rant to ask you to surf over to Nic's place and read her post about the vet who's being denied instate tuition because he spent 'toomuch time in Iraq'!!

You may now return to your regular reading...

...tried to build anything that’s being defined by a committee? If so, then you have some idea of the various complexities involved.

Now, in most situations there’s at least a ‘committee’ of two, as in you and your spouse deciding on some landscape plants. The smaller the committee, the simpler the task.

Software development is a funny business, in many cases the users are the ultimate ‘committee’, but, the developers never really see or talk to the users during the development process. Has anyone from Microsoft ever called you to ask you what new features you’d like in the next version of Word or Excel? They haven’t called me in over 10 years either!

The project I’m currently involved in is a ‘central site’ database, that’s utilized by an entire industry. The top seven or eight companies in this industry, all have one or two representatives in the committee, along with three or four from this company, and a project leader, and a project manager.

We spent March through July building the specifications for this sync project, obtaining sign off from all participants at each step along the way. Towards the end of August, two members of the committee called a halt to the project while they re-evaluated the specifications.

The past few weeks have been interesting. There’s been a lot of email and phone calls, mostly to clarify items that were clearly spelled out in the specifications and several meetings between the industry folks to discuss the direction the specifications should go in.

Keep in mind here that any, and I mean any changes to the data streams that flow from them to us, us to them and between the industry members all follow a specific EDI standard. The industry decided, a few years ago to only implement EDI changes every two years. The 2006 EDI spec is nearly finished and about to go into development. This means, that for the changes they’re requesting now, the earliest possible point for them to be receiving that data in an acceptable electronic format will be 2008!!

The change to the process they’ve requested, will require we have the ability to send additional data, it’s in their formal change request, yet, in that same request they’d like an estimate for the change order ASAP so the project doesn’t get ‘off track’.

Unfortunately, virtually none of these folks are IS/IT folks, they’re business people. Very good business people, but not at all qualified to be making IS/IT calls about data structures. Yet, they’ve been picked by the industry to build this new mechanism.

I love this gig, the company I’m contracted to, the way they do business and everyone I’ve met from the industry. I just don’t think they really know what they’re asking for with this one. I’m making a prediction here today. When this all shakes out, and it will in the next 6-8 weeks, I’m guessing we’ll be doing exactly what we initially planned to do. Except, we’ll be adding a complicating step, providing a utility that will never be used as intended, and building in an “indicator” to show a particular entity’s “sync status” instead of creating a separate unique ID to track the entity.

All in all though, it’s been an interesting ride as this works itself out. It’s a perfect example of the principle of “Enlightened Self-Interest” at (or not at) work.

Enlightened self-interest, is a product of balance among narrow self-interests, shared-interests, and altruistic or other-interests.

Enlightened self-interest in this context means that any one particular aspect or dimension cannot simply be maximized or minimized. The committee cannot be driven solely by self-interest, by altruism, or by concern for shared-interest. Instead it must pay conscious attention to whether the results are adequately meeting needs for individual companies, as members of the larger industry, and as responsible individual business people.

The quality of the final product will be a direct consequence of harmony or balance among the three.

At this particular point, they’re not quite there yet!


Maryan continues to recover quickly, in fact I may have to tie her to the couch so she won’t be tempted to ‘do things’… I’ve mentioned before that for me, the most difficult thing about the recovery period was the ‘do nothing’ part. It originally sounded great, until about the third or fourth day, then, I began to loose my mind wanting to be able to do something, anything, besides sit and watch TV or read.

Maryan and I are a lot alike in that we like to be doing things. Little projects, tasks etc, keep our minds busy and entertain us in ways TV just can’t. So I know she’s going to struggle with that during recovery… but, she enforced the rules on me, so I feel it’s only fair I do that for her!


A couple new projects hit the radar scope today. One, a DotNet ASP project up in Virginia should start right after Labor day if we get it, and it’s an off site project so I can stay on the job at the current gig.

The other, another offsite project, involves converting some old SBT FoxPro data into something useable for Peachtree. It’s not going to be a ‘big’ project, but, every one we do usually brings in two more eventually!

Hell, if I could string together enough of these I could live anywhere I wanted to without worrying about a ‘job’ or the job opportunities as it would take geographic location entirely out of the picture! That’s a dream I’ve been working towards for more years than I care to admit, maybe, just maybe, with all the current ‘outsourcing’ trends it could happen!


I’d intended to write something humorous today, but just couldn’t get it together with everything else I had going on. Hopefully soon.

I’ve got intent to hit the shop this weekend and get back into the truck project. The local weather guy is claiming it’s only going to be in the 80’s… if that’s true I should be able to make some progress again. On the agenda is finishing the work on the two fender wells, the welding on the bed and with any luck getting a coat of primer on all the ‘hidden’ tunnels and such on the underside of the bed.

Once that’s done I can begin reassembling the bed and start the blocking and leveling process! I really want to get this thing together and in primer so I can show you all that process.


Nic said...

LOL, hey there sunshine, I just finished putting up a pretty big post about Cindy Sheehan so you might want up update your link to point to here instead:

Yeah I was pretty upset with it too b/c I used to go there back in the early 90's. It's the least expensive place in and around Austin to get a college education. Unlike the 2 year community colleges in the Midwest, etc. our community colleges are 4 year schools. Our Jr. Colleges are 2 year schools.

It's disgusting and appalling that this would actually happen. As Ken, the other commentor said "This from a state who is wanting to offer in-state tuition to illegal aliens?" Yeah, it is truly a "hang my head" moment for the city of Austin, my hometown.

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to read that your sweet wife is doing better. The two of you are so blessed to have each other!

Beth said...

No, I have never. lol

Thanks for the updates on your wife. I'm glad to always read the good news!

RealLady said...

lol...I know, pay back is "hell" and you are paying me back! thanks baby! you da one!

Bill said...

Hi Nic... I'l change that link tonight. THanks for the kind words, you're right, we are... it's one of the things I'm thankful for everyday!

GK - Consider yourself lucky!! You're welcome, I'm just so glad she's doing so well I can't help but let everyone know!

RL - You are absolutely welcome! As long as I'm *your* man... that's all that really matters to me! :)

Braleigh said...

I've never had to- thank God.

Glad to hear Maryan is recovering nicely!