One one of many pre-sales visits to different clients over the years, I found myself at a local dotcom in DC. It was filled with early-20’s VPs and fresh out of college developers who had a head a little too big for their skills. I love passion, but non-academic experience counts too, especially when you’re leading the work.
I asked them how they did development. The first response I got was “We follow the parts of Agile we like” and then he went on to describe unstructured seat-of-your pants hero-mode development. They were there until 1:00 am every day not because of the dual and triple monitor setups on their desks, not because of the piles of direct-from-costco bags-o-carbs, but because they didn’t have anyone leading architecture and managing the development process. They wanted consultants who would come in and work under that same model, under their “leadership”.
I’m all for agile and scrum. We do it on most projects. What these folks didn’t get was agile != no process. The dotcoms seem to fall into this more than other groups because of the experience of the employees, and the demands placed on them to produce something – anything fast. Several of the ones I’ve seen out there also tend to bounce between different priorities faster than the developers can keep up. Of course, something like Scrum would be great for this, but unless you have a moment to get your head above water to try it out, it can be a hard sell.
Anyway, we passed on that gig.
I once worked on a project that involved integrating with a very large online bookseller dotcom with a name like Nile or Yangtze or Mississippi or something like that. The stuff I learned about the architecture that drove that site (at least at the time) was just scary. Organically grown may be good for produce, but not so for software. Refactoring and weeding once in a while is a good idea.
Fast forward to today.
I see evidence of the same thing at the dotcoms we love for our Web 2.0 social networks. Facebook can’t get their act together and engage the developer community in a way that provides useful information and direction, leading to a more informed developer community and better applications. Instead, they have ignored bug reports, completely mismanaged rolling out the new profile platform, and generally left Facebook developers in a big quagmire while we wait for them to figure out how to manage a software development project and rollout.
And Twitter. Yep, twitter is the one we all love and love to hate. Twitter never seems quite up to the demand they have generated. Even the failwhale seems oldschool now. When I refreshed my browser today, this is what I got.
In case you can’t see it, it’s a screenshot of a dialog asking me for a uid/password to access “Production-Staging Access – Employees Only”. This continued for some time. FAIL.
Someone should offer them their architecture and sdl process services. Anything would be better than seat of your pants.