I told the senior developers that I didn't have time to continue with all the edits they wanted on the requirements document because I had to fix the last few bugs before I left. One of them was furious and screamed at me in an open cubicle farm about how I was to do what he said. I never spoke with him again after that, but I did finish developing my system and put it into use. It worked as expected, and my boss was pleased.
A couple of months later, while neck-deep in the debugger on my new project, I got a call from my old boss. Something was wrong with my purchasing system. Purchase orders weren't getting filled, and he figured my system had a bug. It was a disaster. Would I come take a look?
I really liked him (and it was my first "baby"), so I drove out. After some digging, I found that there were no technical problems -- none. The system worked perfectly. I started to walk around to people's offices and asked what had happened. Everything was working as it should.
Finally, I got to the liaison who was supposed to actually place the order with the vendor. Had she gotten the email from my system? Yes. Did she write the check to the vendor so that the order could be placed? No.
We'd recently been bought by a larger company, and in the ensuing chaos corporate shenanigans had triumphed once again. The new corporate managers were downsizing people like this liasion so that they could "consolidate resources," and they told her not to fill any purchase orders "the old way." She was clearly disgruntled and checked out since she knew she was on her way out the door. To her, not doing things "the old way" meant not doing them at all. Why should she care?
I'd found the "bug" and explained to my old boss what had happened.
I lost touch with my old boss and don't know what happened with the system I developed under the new corporate managers. But one thing this experience taught me was that no matter how excellent the software might be and how perfectly it solves the problem, it might end up as shelfware due to forces outside of your control. Whenever this happens, I learned from this incident that it's best to just shrug and move on.
Also on InfoWorld:
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This story, "When the bug in the system is actually a person" was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.