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But also, as I discover now, they are a typical way for the management to blame the developers for wasting time and not even have delivered a simple product yet despite all the development time already spent!
Are you talking about specs that change in the middle of the development cycle? Any non-trivial change to a spec should be met with the statement that the schedule must be revisited. If management disagrees, any sensible jury will see it as justifiable GBH if you kick them in the groin with all your might.
Yes, that's what I am talking about.
Moving spec are treated with a "how come this doesn't do it already" question?!
It's not like there is a nice spec document, it's n house development and spec are "discovered" as we go...
I am a contractor too now, it pays well!
1 year in my first 3 months contract
Anyway, ideally I'd like it to keep on going with a friendly ending! People there are nice too... Just there is a bit of stress right now, and the CIO has a slight tendency to do management by bullying, but only slight!
My experience has been be careful what jobs you take. I've actually had one outfit hire me to take the blame for a project that was sunk before I got there - of course I didn't know that when I took the job, but it became clear pretty quickly.
I was more careful about taking short term contracts after that.
I'm far from a stickler for process, but this sounds nuts. Are you saying that your users are in-house? And that they often expect you to anticipate their needs? I could see it to some degree if your development team regularly uses the software themselves, but even then it'd be a stretch given that every user has different priorities.
I am developing a database that is an import of other database. And it was used to good effect so far, implement all report that we were told to implement, etc...
And then suddenly, when 20 work days from release, it is discovered that this database is missing some super critical information.
Mind you it's not a bug in the existing code, it's that they expect this data was not part of the previous task, even going so far as explicitly saying it didn't matter. But now it is suddenly missing... :/
The import code keep on getting more difficult to update and database schema change take hours to run sometimes now... :/
One book I read that *really* opened my eyes was Extreme Programming. Now, I'm not advocating pair programming - that would be like putting two angry tom-cats in a small cage - but the planning process had some brilliant insights. First, most new projects will never have complete specs. The customer really won't know what they want until they see something in front of them. As such, the specs will almost certainly change. I used to whine about specs changing, but over 30+ years of coding and developing systems, there is no denying this constant. It's best to just accept this fact and manage it. The second thing the XP book brought out is that the customer gets to pick two of three items: quality, features, time. No one gives up quality, so the customer has to get in the mindset of accepting the other two. You then enter the negotiation phase. In my opinion, developers get beat down and grudgingly accept the feature change without a time modification. I believe this is why few developers ever learn how to properly estimate.
So the developers get beat down, learn not to negotiate for more time or money, and as a result, all are amazed when the deadline makes that whooshing noise as it passes by. I'm fascinated by how dysfunctional the entire process is. Imagine if you're building a house, and you suddenly decide to add a bathroom. You think your builder is going to do that for free? Of course not, yet, company after company makes this same mistake when developing software, thinking they are going to get away with it.
I'd suggest not letting it get under your skin - the management will likely throw a temper-tantrum, but stay calm. If they bully, well, that's an entirely different situation.
<italic>Stuck in a dysfunctional matrix from which I must escape...
"Where liberty dwells, there is my country." B. Franklin, 1783
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” BF, 1759