No Miracles

Our development team migrated our code to use new development tools this year. The install package and build scripts had to be modified. Our customer decided to perform a functionality test to ensure nothing got broke during migration. The updated installation worked on development and internal test machines. However we were unable to procure any workstations that matched the customer configuration. We delivered the installs for the functionality test. Of course the install did not work. A developer spent at least a day speaking with a system administrator at the customer site. But there was little to no progress.

I got the message that the development manager wanted to have a conference call to discuss the problem. We got all the facts regarding what our install developer had found. The manager wanted to see if there was anything we could do to speed up the install process. We decided that we could have the system administrator manually install and configure our application on the test workstations. The estimated time to complete this task would be about noon the next day. Fearing increased risk and schedule slippage, the manager asked how we could reel in that estimate to 7:00am the next day. This is where the conversations broke down.

Development proposed that the install scripts could be broken up which might relieve some of the risk. However the estimate was still at 12:00 noon. And so the manager continued to ask what we could do to reel in the estimate. That’s when we heard crickets chirping. We had already factored in developers staying late and bringing the work home to complete. So the manager wanted to review what it was that we were going to do from the top. It was unanimous amongst developers that we could minimize risk and accelerate the task if we got a workstation configured like the client’s site. Apparently that was not an option. So the manager continued to ask what could be done to reel in the estimate.

There were all kinds of problems going on with our meetings to deal with this problem. One part was that the software development manager was wasting a lot of time by keeping the whole development team in a meeting. The other problem was that we were not given the correct tools to do the job. Yes this might be normal for those of us who work for a pointy haired Dilbert style manager. But there has to be a better way to work in the software development world.