Because the user is always right, right?

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This company manages an automated teller machine network -- controlling the ATMs and moving money between banks -- and is upgrading its billing system, according to a pilot fish who's working on the project.

And the new features aren't exactly simple. "The new release would allow a rolled-up integer count of items to be charged, integrated with the various pricing schemes including tiered pricing, parent pricing, and child-pays-full-price-while-parent-gets-discount pricing," fish says.

Fortunately, the team is well into the testing stage and the worst of the complications are past.

At least that's what fish thinks, until the lead user in the billing department tells fish his people have come up with a new idea: That item count could also be used as a money field -- dollars and cents -- to report the total transaction value.

That's not in the original requirements, but fish responds, walking through the alternative ways of doing something like this.

One is to just sum up the dollars. It's an integer field in the database, so anything less than a dollar would disappear from the total.

Another way would be to multiply each amount by 100 to include both dollars and cents, sum it up, then divide by 100 to get the right result before using the total is used in reports or other systems.

Third possibility: Add some entirely new functionality that would sum up the transaction amounts, in addition to the existing transaction count.

Fourth option: Do nothing in this release and add it in later.

Fish recommends either the first or second approach, with number 4 as the fallback.

And naturally, the billing department wants number 3.

Sighs fish, "I told the lead user there wasn't enough time to write the code, unit test, user-acceptance test, and still make the deadline. I promised that we could put it in for the subsequent release, and pointed out that they approved the original requirements.

"The response I got: 'If I change my mind the day before implementation, you still have to meet those new requirements.'

"Needless to say, they did not get what they wanted."

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