New features, new look, same old mistakes

IT consultant pilot fish is brought in to help overhaul a big financial firm's mobile app -- new features, new look, pretty much a complete rework.

"I was the lead backend engineer," says fish. "We had a meeting with the project owner, the project management team -- from a different company -- and the design firm. Then we received mockups and began to dig in."

It's not long before it becomes obvious to fish that there are more than a few things requested that weren't fully thought through. He raises the issues -- but he's told to keep working on it.

But that's not the only issue. The mockups of the app are essentially being used as a requirements document, and the project suffers from some poorly executed management processes. Still, fish and his team do their best.

Eventually the project gets to QA and -- no surprise -- things fall apart.

"A business team from the company was called in to discuss the problems," fish says. "On the conference call, the question was asked: Who from the business team met with the design firm?

"The answer: 'No one.'"

Turns out the design firm was in the process of losing their contract, and knew it. It appears that team took what the project owner asked for and created mockups with as little effort as possible.

And the designers never once talked to the business team about what the actual processes should be, or if the systems worked that way.

To make matters worse, the project management team never kept track of any of the discussions over the year of development, so on the conference call fish has to answer the business team's questions from memory and his notes -- which aren't heavy on who-made-what-decision details.

"Flash forward a couple of years, and several hundred hours of development," says fish. "The project never was completed successfully, and was quietly scrapped under the guise of 'we need to think over...'"

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