Cows-And-Catapults_2

Life of a Software Developer-2 or Clients, Behave!

CowsAndCatapults_2

I went to see my favorite client today, the one with cows and catapults. They went quiet for some time, probably really impressed by the document our companies agreed on after the tough time of the last two weeks. They call it “Agreement on Issue Handling”. I call it “Customer Behavior Rules”.

It is a real chef-d’œuvre, a masterpiece on client upbringing! Just look at it!
Paragraph 1: Information to be included in the issue report
Or in other words:
Place your hand on the Bible and/or lie detector and answer the following questions as honest as you can before coming to us with your “problem”:

  1. Are you sure it’s our fault, or maybe you forgot to tell us something important yourself?
    • Yep, pretty sure you screwed up, guys, hahaha (bug)
    • Well, we imagined green stripes to look better on pink. Can you make it yellow dots please? We’ll pay you money! (change request)
    • Ehm, we hate to admit but we forgot to mention that cows need to be provided with beverages on the flight. Can you do it please? We’ll pay you money! Pretty please? (feature request)
  2. How important is it?
    • There has been an outbreak of mad cow disease! We all gonna die if you don’t fix it yesterday! (blocker)
      • Note: You’d better be damn sure about this, because I can show you 10 “blockers” in my work list right now you haven’t asked about for months. According to this, you must have already joined the dinosaurs at the extinct species museum exhibition.
    • The cows are not happy right now, man, and they are gonna be calling animal protection soon if you don’t fix it asap (critical)
    • It’s kinda irritating, but I guess we have other problems right now (major or minor, depending on the irritation level)
    • Na, just do it when you have some spare time (trivial)
  3. Where is your catapult?
    • my backyard (test)
    • my neighbor’s backyard (prelive)
    • city’s main square (production)
  4. Do you have any picture that documents the problem?
    • No
      • Bad. Go away and don’t come back till you get one!
    • Yes
      • Good. Now attach it in the landscape format 10×15 cm. Aren’t you a doll!

Or Paragraph 6: All relevant changes to the issue report should be made and/or pointed out in a separate comment.

Or in other words:

You told us your cows need drinks on the flight. We told you how much it will cost you. So please don’t go secretly expanding your wish list thinking we won’t notice.

This is my favorite one, because there is a story to it. One time we got a feature request – the one with “we’ll pay you money! pretty please!” – and told them that we would need three hours to do it. Later the same day the client changed the description of the request adding just two words, but the words meant extra wishes and, thus, extra work for us within the same three hours. The fact that the changes were made is not directly visible if you read the report. So if it had stayed this way the client would have been getting more stuff for less money. But not with me, my friend. I come from a country that invented KGB, we have it in our blood. I have this habit to “watch” all the issues I worked on. This means I get an email notification every time somebody changes something on any of them, even if it is as small as a space character. Of course, I increased the estimations to match the extended wish list.

Sometimes I think I would have made it to a decent spy, but na, all that stress and criminals trying to kill you…

Today I was reading and re-reading selected paragraphs of the “Customer Behavior Rules” just to fill this joyful anticipation of many-many passive-aggressive emails I get to write now! In THE language of politeness each of them will become a little treasure to your ear!

“Dear Mr. Shepherd,

According to the “Customer Behavior Rules”, chapter 1, paragraph 4, section 2a an issue report should contain a picture of the cow in question in the landscape format 10×15. The issue you reported on the cow 984 contains a hand drawing of something we could not clearly identify. Our stakes are on a bunny eating noodles, but we are not 100% sure (Did your son draw this in the kindergarden? Then it’s very cute!) Would you please be so kind and attach a proper picture of the respective cow in the landscape format 10×15? Thank you very much in advance.”

Sometimes I think I would have made it to a decent layer, but na, all that stress and criminals trying to kill you…

And no, we are not picky or mean-for-fun. We really need the picture of the damn cow to be able to see if what the client reported indeed took place. This will save us all from the embarrassment of a “could you please elaborate on how you reached a conclusion that there is a problem, as I looked at the raw data and it is perfectly fine” email. If we go dig into raw data ourselves it costs extra time and, thus, extra money for our client. So actually we are actually acting in their interest. Yes, we are.

Finally, very briefly about how my day was today, as the story actually started with “I went to see my favorite client”:

The client took this document very seriously and it’s a different ball game now. No more half-horses flying around instead of cows. No more strange questions about the cow boots. I got only three issue reports today and they were really tough. But hei, I told you it’s in my blood. It looks like a cow, it moos like a cow, but if you know where to look you’ll find out that it’s a zebra in a Halloween costume. And we all know zebras are not allowed on the catapult. So wrong address again, guys. Go and sort it out with your cattle supplier. As for me, I’m going home now. Try not to break anything till tomorrow please. Pretty please.

Gill

Gill Andrews is a content creator and a web consultant from Germany. When she is not writing or analyzing websites, she is probably running after her toddler son or eating chocolate cake (because writing and running after toddlers requires a lot of energy). Read more about Gill on www.Gillandrews.com

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