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Thread: Agile programming (was Re: [P|C] Banksel)
face BY : Nate Duehr email (remove spam text)

On Jan 28, 2009, at 10:27 PM, Rolf wrote:

> I am solely responsible for certain functionality, and for other  
> aspects

That is surprising in financial software.  You could add the famous  
"shave off all the rounded numbers into my Swiss bank account"  
function in your code, and no one would audit it?

We can't even do that in "answer the phone line" code in telco --  
hearing that there's ever only ONE engineer in charge of a function in  
financial code, doesn't give me warm fuzzies.

(Yeah, I know they'd catch the above example, but you get the idea.)

> I work in a team as we together develop and maintain a single complex
> middleware application. On a company level we deliver a complete suite
> of financial risk management software components that interract/live

I guess it doesn't manage risk all that well -- or your customers all  
didn't lose 30% last year like everyone else?  Hahahaha...

Well, you did say you were "feeding code to the financial crisis", and  
everything I've heard is that the mortgage stuff was quite heavily  
affected by "computer models".  Not that I don't hold the dolts who  
BELIEVED the models responsible, mind you... but it's interesting stuff.

> Further, the company I work for likes to believe they have the best
> programmers (and I like to agree ;-). We are given a lot of freedom to

That right there says something.  The best rarely think they are.  :-)

> do things 'our way', but the payback is that we have to be flexible,
> multi-skilled, and be willing to re-prioritize things on a management
> whim. I am one of many people in the company who have specialist/niche
> technical and business knowledge, and a broader overlapping system
> knowledge.

If they're reprioritizing on a "management whim", the managers aren't  
very good and don't have very good goal-setting skills in the first  
place.  So I wouldn't put too much stock in that "best programmers"  
thing, since they're not very good managers to begin with.

> And worse, the product they developed has won all sorts of awards, and
> is well regarded in the financial industry, unfortunately it is a  
> bugger
> to integrate with the rest of the system. It will probably be
> stand-alone for a while.
> In the end I guess you could say the company has a split  personality.

One that writes award-winning software, and one that doesn't?  Heh heh.

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And meanwhile the bank using the software should have just turned the  
idiot with the nose-ring and his girlfriend wearing the "I'm with  
Stupid" T-shirt down for the loan... hah.

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Isn't your job as you described it -- as an individual -- already a  
"small team" within that bigger whole that gets those big projects  
done?  You do things you say the other's can't, you have your own  
deadlines and goals... things change, you adapt... sounds "Agile" to me!

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This is why (and I don't like this model, but it's still commonly  
done) many companies break up "Product Engineering", and "Continuation  
Engineering" into different departments that don't co-mingle.

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How about pushing for code that needs LESS maintenance from the  
start?  Write once, use.  :-)

(Everyone says it's impossible, but we've all seen small projects  
where it somehow worked out and the "thing" hasn't been touched for  
years, and still works.  I'm not a programmer by trade, but it seems  
to me like Agile is all about just scaling that "small win" type  
situation up into the building blocks for a bigger project, isn't it?)

It *is* possible to write almost perfect code, after all...



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