SYSTEMS DESIGN: STILL TRYING TO GET IT RIGHT


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By James Carlini

Systems design has come a long way.  Or has it?

Taking various organizational procedures and applications and automating them has been going on for over four decades.  Next-generation systems have been selected and implemented more than once or twice in those four decades.  Millions, if not billions, have been spent on computers, data centers, developing and training personnel, and software applications.

Initial attempts were focused on getting a software program in place and getting people to adapt to the automated system.  A lot has happened since original systems were developed, yet basic design concepts and comprehensive testing to insure quality still seem to be elusive.

Tard Faillard, SYSTEMS DESIGNER EXTRAORDINAIRE

I am sure you know Tard and have worked with him somewhere in your career.  He is the systems designer who thinks he knows everything when he goes out to design a system.  He doesn’t.  His system is usually flawed at best, and totally unworkable, at worst.

THE “TARD” APPROACH TO SYSTEMS DESIGN

PHASE

APPROACH

PLANNING

Not everything is covered, analyzed or understood.  The main focus is to get the system   up-and-running.  Tard usually promises   fast results and management likes that.

DESIGN

Based on an insufficient amount of planning and analysis, the design   is flawed to begin with, BUT who cares?  The main objective is to “get a system   up-and-running”.  Tard usually gets   upper management “buy-in” with that.

IMPLEMENTATION Tard usually has inadequate   time built into his overall planning process.  No parallel running of systems while the new   system is being proven out.  Why have   both systems run in parallel?  This is   a Tard Faillard design – what could go wrong?    (Famous last words)
TESTING

Testing is usually spotty with Tard, you have to show him all these   new phases.  COMPONENT/ SUBSYSTEM/ SYSTEMS/INTEGRATION/   STRESS TESTING (with actual traffic and/or load)/ ACCEPTANCE TESTING.  They are not new, he just doesn’t know the real systems design & implementation process.

ACCEPTANCE

The users weren’t really involved with all the phases, so they are   just handed the new system and told, “work with it”.  By this time Tard is off on another   endeavor or off to another company (or worse yet – promoted).

POST-IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW

What is this?  You got the   system you wanted.  Tard is off and  running on his next assignment.  He   can’t be bothered.  He lets someone   else take care of the “fine-tuning” of the flawed system.  Beware if you are that person because all   the blame will be put on you when it is found out the system doesn’t work.

MAINTENANCE

This somehow is a huge, ongoing expense.  Tard never thought that there would be this   much maintenance on a new system but, THERE IS.  Upper management is saddled with a dog that   is lucky if it performs 60% of the time.

Source : ©James Carlini, Copyright 2013

And watch out for Tard’s sister, Marge Faillard.  She is just as bad at systems design as Tard, but may be in charge of the project.

“Marge in Charge”, is another person to avoid having any final say-so on a system.  She usually has less skills than Tard, but makes up for it in her bossy, “I’m in charge” arrogance and condescending attitude to co-workers and subordinates.  Her final results are just as bad, if not worse.

It’s worse because she doesn’t leave.  She stays on to be in charge of the next systems implementation.  Want to lose all your good people?  Keep Marge in charge.

When she is finally found out, your company is usually too far gone to salvage.  Her answer to that?  Well, it was all those “incompetent people who left the company while I worked my rear-end off” being in charge.

WHEN TARD & MARGE WORK FOR A VENDOR OR SUPPLIER

When you have to try and work with a bad system and it is because of a bad vendor or supplier where Tard or Marge work at, it will come down to a lawsuit guaranteed.

I know.  I have reviewed both of their work many times, and in many industries, throughout the years.  They have kept me working, even though I have never worked with them or for them.

Well, I did work with their father, Tard Sr., but I learned so much on how not to do things, I promised myself I would never work in an environment like that again.  I learned a lot from good mentors at Bell Telephone Laboratories and MIT (when AT&T had this technical program there for complex mission critical information systems).

Sometimes you learn more from failure, than from success.  Do you work with Tard or Marge?  Call me.  We can fix it.

CARLINI-ISM:  Good, cheap, or fast – pick two.

Follow daily Carlini-isms at www.TWITTER.com/JAMESCARLINI

Copyright 2013 – James Carlini

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