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Will we ever learn?

I met a friend yesterday for lunch that works for one of my former employers.  I left this place five years ago because my division of IT had devolved into complete madness.  I’ve written about the organization several times, most recently in my Reversibility post with this little nugget about our process:

At no time in the project were developers, analysts, the architect, and
the testers ever actively engaged on the project at the same time.

Basically, my then organization collapsed because we were reorganized along the “shared services” model where all the “resources” were temporarily assigned to a project for their particular phase.  The same projects that I would do today with a team of 4-6 people dedicated to the project would be done by over a dozen specialists popping in and out of the project at different times.  The fun part was that each and every person in the entire organization was spread over multiple projects at any one time (I topped out at 7-8 simultaneous projects as the “Architect”).  Collaboration was basically zero.  Ownership was basically zero.  The VP who came up with this brainchild was removed and placed in charge of an ergonomics study for IT before being asked to leave (don’t feel bad for her, she’s now the CIO of a Fortune 500 company).

At the same time, they tried the old centralized team of non-coding architects and the typical hilarity ensued, culminating for me the day that our chief architect tried to demand that all data access be done through web services.  You might say to yourself, isn’t that an atrociously inefficient way to do data access?  Both in terms of developer efficiency and performance?  Ah, but you just don’t have the proper appreciation for enterprise level architecture concerns.

That’s all water under the bridge and I’ve long since escaped into a more sane Agile world, but my poor friend might be going down the same path as his organization seems intent on making many of the exact same mistakes as my organization of 5 years ago.  He’s just been named to the centralized architecture group and they’re starting to split the different disciplines into more and more separate organizations.  The killer for me was being told that a corporate architecture group is trying to force all data access to be done through exchanging messages over a brand new ESB infrastructure.  Yee haa!

About Jeremy Miller

Jeremy is the Chief Software Architect at Dovetail Software, the coolest ISV in Austin. Jeremy began his IT career writing "Shadow IT" applications to automate his engineering documentation, then wandered into software development because it looked like more fun. Jeremy is the author of the open source StructureMap tool for Dependency Injection with .Net, StoryTeller for supercharged acceptance testing in .Net, and one of the principal developers behind FubuMVC. Jeremy's thoughts on all things software can be found at The Shade Tree Developer at http://codebetter.com/jeremymiller.
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