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One thing I would suggest if you think the owner has the patience for it, is to ask what are his favorite things about the mockup the designer did.
I've done this for a few mockups and sometimes been astounded at what the responses are. The favorite thing may be that she used so much orange that matched the company logo or that the buttons have rounded corners that the owner thinks look more modern than the legacy system. I'm not kidding. I've gotten responses like this in the past that had nothing to do with how the system worked.
Finding out what makes this design a success in the owners eyes will help you know what is important to preserve and where you can suggest changes.
The Boss seems to act like he's the only user of the system. You might try breaking the project definition into "user views of the business process," giving the importance of his complex overview prominent recognition. At the same time, you need to collect what are the needs and hurdles of the other employees as they do their daily work. Try to enlist the support of the employee he needs/trusts most to work with you on project definition and present some (not all!) of the employee's important needs to Boss. Try to get him work with the employee and you together to optimize business processes. Be sure to be seen as paying attention to the Boss's ideas, then refine them with the employee later. Sometimes the key employee can present ideas which would be immediately rejected if they came from an outsider.
Perhaps the Boss is trying to deal with a business perceived as slipping out of his control and wants a complex dashboard that only HE/SHE can understand ... that's trouble for you and may explain why he's so reluctant to share business processes with you. Good luck, if that's the case.
On the other hand, if he really wants to grow the business and trusts his employees he needs to understand that different employees can work more efficiently with their own constrained view of the business processes and that giving everyone the big dashboard view is a threat to the security of his business model.
A few off-work team building sessions with you, a favored employee and Boss might help. Go out for dinner and drinks to try to break the ice.
Analogies are your friend. It would help to know what industry you are working with to make them more pertinent.
Say you are going to build cars. You start with a frame, then you add wheels. So you setup your assembly line to build a frame and then add wheels. After ten cars roll through you realize they need brakes. So now you have to dismantle those cars, and completely re-tool your assembly line. You do that over and over with each feature/part and then you realize that the warehouse you bought isn't big enough for all of the stations you need in your assembly line.
An ERP application is the assembly line for every transaction in his business.
What a classic: I want 5 pounds of software ... and make it purple!
There's plenty of good advice been given already, but with an obstinate client they may still get nowhere. Perversely, the most difficult clients can become your biggest fans in the long run, but it's a long painful road to get there. Generally, contract positions can get away with being more direct, but in-house you get less listening and more "just do it!"
If the other approaches don't work, the best suggestion I can make is to do it his way (sort of). Start by building a prototype. Call a review meeting and let the other staff pull it to pieces. Keep the ball rolling by throwing in your own observations/questions: "How about this scenario, how should we deal with that?" Some people are concrete thinkers and need to visualize; we programmers tend to be abstract/conceptual and we can give a concrete thinker a headache! You could ask him to nominate one or two go-to people when he's too busy to answer your questions, then rely on these to build your knowledge. Review comments can be very useful in understanding the business and the process bottlenecks. Make meetings short, productive and frequent; make sure you have material to cover or cancel the meeting. When he evades questions and gets aggressive, back off and follow up by email. Use examples he might understand. Iterate prototypes to show progress and converge to an adequate solution.
Look at what competitors are doing (if you can) and be more open about the business type. There are a lot of experienced people on CP - use them!
Knowledge elicitation is often a challenge and takes experience. Sometimes it seems easy, but you'll find the pleasant person that instructed you was trying to help you by simpifying, only to find later that you are missing loads of "edge cases". Look out for weasel words (like "usually", "almost never", "I don't think you need worry about that"). Sometimes you get no feedback and project failure is "your fault".
Good luck and good for you for sticking to it!
Life is like a s**t sandwich; the more bread you have, the less s**t you eat.
Do you have access to the DOS code? Could you figure out what it does and duplicate it in ASP.NET? An application does not have to be a normalized, objectified work of perfection. This guy obviously does not want to be "Educated", so I would not try. If you see obvious design problems along the way, you could tackle them a bit at a time when you get to them, even if that means rewriting a lot of your code.
So, the owner actually said: “replace (my) failing DOS-based ERP with an ‘ASP.NET solution’”?
… And replace my DOS / dBase II / whatever based file system with (for example) SQL Server Enterprise Edition?
I get the sense that someone is trying to sell the owner something ("leading-edge") he may not need, want, or can afford; without even addressing what it is that is “failing”.
Perhaps, all he needs is “QuickBooks”.
ERP systems are made up of multiple "sub-systems". One does not typically replace the whole thing in one fell swoop. You identify the biggest "pain point" and go from there. If the owner says he wants to "replace" his existing ERP system, the easiest way to get him talking is to respond "why?" (Though I doubt that he actually said he wanted to "replace" it).
Now that the men and women have both competed in the snowboard slopestyle, I've noticed quite a few differences in the tricks that each perform. I did not see any of the women perform flips, only spins and grabs. As part of their routine, the men did flips, spins, and both together. Was this nothing more than coincidence, or is that just the way the two genders differ on that particular discipline?
"One man's wage rise is another man's price increase." - Harold Wilson
"Fireproof doesn't mean the fire will never come. It means when the fire comes that you will be able to withstand it." - Michael Simmons
"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him." - James D. Miles
Hey it's better than me "Right, can you skateboard?" (me) "No, chipped a tooth last time I tried", "ride a bike?" (me) "No, I have balance problems", "best you not try this then" (me) "Well I did tell you..."
Or me: "Right, can you skateboard?" (me) "Has it got a motor?", "No." (me) "Not interested then."
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. --- George Santayana (December 16, 1863 – September 26, 1952)
Those who fail to clear history are doomed to explain it. --- OriginalGriff (February 24, 1959 – ∞)
I noticed that too, but also noticed that in snowboarding and freestyle, men and women compete on the same course, whereas in downhill and slalom and luge and bobsled and skeleton, the women compete on a shorter course.
Note that there is now women's hockey and women's ski jumping -- when women athletes want to compete equally they speak up and get heard.
Plus, the only skater to one-foot land a backflip is a woman.
In short, the NPTN gene is shown to be active in more intelligent individuals, leading to greater Cortex and Grey Matter growth.
This is quite controversial, for if it is a measurable and heritable condition then it could be looked for in prospective partners looking for Alphas. And those not making the grade would become Betas, or worse.
Also it has not been measured across racial divides (Yes, I know there is technically no such thing as 'Race' in human beings, sharing as we do a Mitochondrial Eve and an Y-Chromosome Adam.)
If it were found to be less developed in some races it may lead to some very difficult discussions about human development.
I will be controversial here...
It is shown that Oriental Children have a slightly higher IQ when it comes to cognitive learning, maths and memory, but that European Children show higher responses in Problem Solving, Engineering and Language.
(I am presuming they did not measure the Language Ability of Britain).
There are reasons for the Europeans to give this result as it was harder to survive in the Grim North and those best suited for that kind of intelligence would do better, so it was inherited and reinforced.
Why the Chinese and Korean et al are better at maths is a mystery.
Now, non-controversially, if the test were available to see if your partner/children carried the High IQ version of the gene, would you test?
Obscurum per obscurius.
Ad astra per alas porci.
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.
What I've always found "interesting" is that there's no problem about saying something like a child inherited their parents musical ability, athletic ability, &etc., but as soon as one considers intelligence, there's the fear of all 'ell breakin' loose.
If various other mammals can be bread for personality traits (dogs for ferocity), then how could one exclude humans from husbandry?
Certainly, environment can have something to do with it. Probably a lot. Culture, as well, as that will result in self-imposed rigor in certain types of skills (mental and/or physical).
Separating these . . . that's the tricky part. Coincidence, Correlation, and Cause-and-Effect. This trio effectively birthed Disraeli's "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics."
Statistically, being born is a fatal affliction.
As for me? Per the initial message of this thread, I'm putting out my shingle to make some big bucks supplying stud service.
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." - Albert Einstein
"As far as we know, our computer has never had an undetected error." - Weisert
"If you are searching for perfection in others, then you seek disappointment. If you are seek perfection in yourself, then you will find failure." - Balboos HaGadol Mar 2010