They were fired

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A thread on the scalability of software leads to some storytelling.

The Story

I have a story for you.
I have a client, an insurance company based in Joburg. They need to send
figures to their principal every month, so far so good. Their principal
insurance company is way behind, technology wise, and is going through
the "we need a proper system" phase that I sent my client through in 2003.
So, a company was brought in by the principal.
They specified a feed, consisting of lines with fixed length fields,
with about 700 columns per row. Epic epic failure. They were fired.
So, a second company was brought in by the principal.
They specified a feed, this time it had an XSD! Fed the XSD through a
code generator, we had an accurate feed. The client paid for it out of
goodwill. For reasons unclear, this company didn't deliver although they
started well. They were fired.
So, a third company was brought in by the principal.
This third company threw out absolutely everything, and specified a feed
with pipe delimited fields. In ASCII. WTF???? It's two thousand and
fsking nine forfsckssakes.
I put my foot down.
I sent a list of demands to the directors of the client, who passed it
across to the directors of the principal, who passed it onto the third
company, who made it clear in their response that they didn't know what
they were doing, they're guaranteed to be fired, and they are wasting my
client's time and money.
I met in London recently with a representative of the principal to break
the impasse, and set out my concerns. I fely sorry for the guy, he was a
business person who had been lumped with the "computer problem", and was
stuck between warring factions. The compromise was that on condition
that they fixed outstanding issues in their spec, we would do the feed
for the third time.
News gets round to the third company, who have sent excuses, but no
amended spec.
And until I get the amended spec, no work will get done.
The third company has made claims that they follow a software
development life cycle, but they can't fix bugs in their spec. And
because I am not going to leave the holes in their spec to cause errors
in the feed, and in turn audits from the principal, I'm not budging
until they fix it.
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