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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s..

Scope creep is a risk to any project. My manager frequently reminds me and our developer that we should work to get the plane into the air first, before we start adding fanciful enhancements. The plane analogy works, and we are holding the line fairly well, but I must confess that a plane is not really how I think of our toolset. A plane is so sleek and elegant, and at the same time highly engineered to withstand all kinds of punishments. Another contraption is what I see in my mind’s eye when I think about our architecture and all of its interfaces.

Perhaps you, too, have seen “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” so many times that you recite the rhyming verses along with narrator Boris Karloff, much to the annoyance of family members and pets. If not, and for those disadvantaged readers who have never experienced this American television animated holiday classic from the mid 1960s, let me just say that the Grinch hates Christmas, the whole Christmas season. Please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason. Oops! There I go. Anyway, among the things the Grinch hates about Christmas down in Whoville are the noisy toys given to the Who girls and boys, toys which, in this fantasy, are elaborate game contraptions. Of all the fantastic toys, my favorite is the zoo-zitta-carzay, a roller-skate-type of lacrosse and croquet. On Christmas Eve, the Grinch gnashes his teeth, his feet ice cold in the snow, as, in his mind’s eye, the young Whos down in Whoville enjoy the dangers of the risky and elaborately interconnected game toy with great abandon.

I have been thinking of the zoo-zitta-carzay often these days, as we slowly work through all the interfaces of the web-based toolset we are now piloting. Just when we had the web front-end communicating with the SAP system and the back-end partner system, with all of the workflows and pop-ups finally working as designed, we decided on just a few more interfaces to a web site on another portal. While the coding was being completed, I stayed busy documenting the new processes for our internal web site. Since our team’s web support person is no longer with the company, the new web micro site is one of my new responsibilities. This being my first experience in web site building, it was a challenge for me to work out all of the document imports and hyperlinks. We were also having some reporting issues with getting the results from the back-end system to report accurately on the web front end. I’m sure that we had our reasons for designing such an elaborate landscape with so many interfaces, but in the midst of these challenges, I started wondering why.

Thank goodness we came to our senses some months ago and dropped the scope for two different front ends; getting one front end to work with all of the interfaces and workflows is going to be a victory. Our pilot is just underway, and little glitches may yet present themselves, but I am confident that we will get the plane in the air, even while, to me, it is still a zoo-zitta-carzay. I just hope that our users receive our creation half as well as the young Whos down in Whoville did theirs.

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