And that means six more weeks of code reviews

Pilot fish is tasked with writing a simple program to read in two files and output a file for Accounts Receivable, so his department can bill other agencies for computer resources.

There's just one catch. "This was just as my agency was all hot 'n' bothered about software development methodology and the three-tiered programming model," says fish. "By decree, all projects must have a web client, use a web service and SQL Server and an application server."

None of that is needed for fish's simple program. But when his boss's boss learns that fish hasn't designed a web-based system that stores data in SQL Server and calls a web service to access the data, she's not happy -- and tells fish to set up a meeting with another software group to review the design.

Fish walks down the hall and sets up the meeting.

The day arrives, and fish launches into his software's description: I get two flat files, do a join, populate an xmlobject and write that to a file. Then I do two more joins to produce two one-page reports.

"Where do you get the flat files?" someone from the other group asks. They come from the mainframe billing system, fish says.

"So you just read that data and produce an XML file and the input files don't get used for anything else?" Nope, after I process them they're no longer useful.

"Then why do you want to use a web service to store input data in SQL Server if you don't need it again?" Exactly! "Huh? You don't need a three-tiered model to do that. It should be a workstation-based program." Exactly! "Huh?"

Reports fish: "In the end, the other group told my boss's boss exactly what I had told her six weeks earlier. She agreed and told me to go ahead.

"I started writing the program -- and we re-orged, of course! The new boss's boss had to review all our projects, and insisted that my program must follow the three-tiered programming model. I explained why it was not only not necessary but inappropriate and a lot more work for everyone."

New boss's boss tells fish to set up a meeting with the other software development group to review fish's design.

Fish complies, and on the day of the meeting begins by describing his program -- again.

Other group: "Wait, didn't we just review this a month ago?" Fish: Exactly! "Huh?" Same project, same requirements, same output, but this is my new boss's boss...

"In the end, the other group told my boss's boss exactly what I told her four weeks earlier," fish says. "I was dreading Groundhog Day, but it didn't come."

Every weekday morning, Sharky asks for your story. So why not send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com? You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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