Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Nothing personal, it's just business

So for the past three weeks I have been working my tail off to do by myself in Ruby on Rails what took my predecessors years to do in J2EE. That is, rewrite my company's web portal, albeit only a portion of it, which will be shown at a demo. Thanks to Rails' fully featured stack and the wonderful simpleness that is Ruby, I'm nearly done. The hard part has been getting some of the team members to get their tasks done. They're not lazy, they are in fact very hard workers but they are absolutely swamped with other stuff and this is at the bottom of their priority list. I'm quickly finding out that managing a project and doing just the programming as I am accustomed to are two very different things.

Sometimes I wonder if all this hard work is really worth it. Only a month ago management was touting my proposal as the panacea to their problems. Costing only $15,000 and taking less than six months to complete looked very appealing. Of course, the more conservative members of the corporate IT team didn't think it could be done, hence the reason for this one month frenzy of coding to get a working demo out there.

Yet while I'm performing this Herculean task, management is actively seeking external solutions, i.e. vendors. Ugh, the "V" word. It's not that I hate vendors per se, that's too strong a word. It's just that they tend to promise the world and rarely deliver on it yet get away with charging an outrageous sum of money. Colleagues with more experience in the industry than I have tried to explain it using terms like "mitigating risk", "outsourcing experience", and "long term management". But when a product costs 100 times more (that is not an exaggeration in this case) , won't be delivered for at least a year and has little to no customization available, it really makes you wonder what sort of solution management is looking for.

On the plus side though, it's good to know a manager and their fiscal year's budget are so easily parted. It ensures that the smartest workers of this country's growing knowledge-based economy will always have gainful employment provided they charge the "right" price.

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