Making Software Way Too Hard

, , , | Working | November 29, 2020

Several companies have merged. Mine is one of them. The company that bought us is notorious for swallowing up company after company into the gaping maw of its conglomerate.

As a result of this, we software designers are tasked with merging our software as much as possible, so that it is compatible with the various small sub-companies that we now are.

My task in this instance is to visit one of the offices in Switzerland to explain how this tool I’ve built can be used to allow several different software packages to be built using a single command. As you’d expect, it’s complicated and messy, having to cater for a number of options and handle goodness knows how many edge cases and special workarounds.

I know the manager of the team I am presenting to. I’ve worked with her on a previous project, and met her in person at a big workshop meeting that turned into a glorious party a year or so before in a beautiful eastern European capital city.

Her team, however, turns out to be hostile, as they feel that the parent company’s decision to make them use our software in their applications is a bit of a slap in the face. So, from the very first moment of my presentation, they pick holes, they challenge, they question every single decision, and they reply to my justifications for those decisions by telling me bluntly that the decisions were bad ones.

I’m used to this sort of challenge, because it’s little different from a software peer review session. But by mid-afternoon, it has been a hard day and I’m starting to lose patience.

Me: “Okay, here’s the software. It is what it is. I have been tasked with presenting it to you. Take it or leave it. I’ve explained how it works and why it was designed that way. I’m afraid I don’t really have anything else to contribute here.”

Into the silence, the manager, who has been trying all day to get her team to work towards a resolution, bursts out:

Manager: “He’s come all this way to give us an app that will help us! And all the time, you people have just been, so… so rude!

The meeting wound up soon after that, and I returned to the hotel to overeat and overdrink before my flight home the next morning.

Happy days.

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