Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Opportunity Lost

I am typing this out of complete irritation on what happened over the last few days at work. A Singapore client, who had recently shifted away from us, came back with one last request for an urgent requirement. A website needed to be revamped, scheduled to be completed by July 2nd. Since the new support team based out of Beijing would need some time to ramp up, they emailed us with whatever requirement information they had.

The first email arrived on Thursday the 21st of this month. We promptly had a conference call to discuss the feasibility of the changes and to hash out our initial doubts. The call went well and we were informed about the rough timelines targeted. The stakeholder from the client side asked us to explore and provide options on different approaches to quickly get this website revamped.

Our Project manager promised to send the estimates either the same day or on Monday, the 25th. Within the next 4 hours, I went through the style guide, wire frame and specs that had been provided and came up with a reasonably fair estimate. Again, to explain the estimation techniques followed by people here I would need to dedicate an entire post here. Anyways, I was open for any change. The estimation went for a total of 11 revisions in the next two days. Every time they wanted me to revise, the request was to increase the man days. I am quoting my manager here - “Can you please make the coding and unit testing as 31 days instead of 22?”

This approach defeats the whole purpose of estimation. He never really tells me what he fears about the project when I ask him and now, I don’t even know what his real intention is – does he want to take up this project or not? I personally, would never even think of letting a project like this pass by, especially when there are over a dozen resources warming the bench already.

While things were at this state, next arrived the big blow. It was decided to get this reviewed by another project manager. Trust me this “other guy” is a real scumbag. The only credential he has to himself is that he was actually an employee of this client company in Singapore. As expected, he let his whims and fancies to cut loose and started babbling. He felt the already bloated estimate was too “optimistic” and was so confident that it can never be completed as per our estimate. Now that hurts. But what hurts more is the way the rest of the ass holes swayed their head in acceptance.

I usually reserve a separate worksheet for jotting down the assumptions and to point out the questions if any. It is a common practice followed in all estimations. He looked at that and said you may first have to clarify all these points before you can send the actual effort estimate. When informed that the estimate is already overdue, his reaction was fantastic. To quote him exactly – “So what? They sent the request last Thursday, right? You can even reply after this Thursday. Who cares? …”

Who cares??? I am like – “Goddamnit I care! … What has gone into him?” Does this dipshit not realize the phase we are going through? We could at least cut on some operational costs for the next couple months.

After almost a week since the initial request came, the only reply that went from our side was this –
“We have a few assumptions and questions. Please arrange for a conf call. We can then prepare the estimates.”

SAD! PATHETIC! – I felt like screaming.
It has been three days since and there has been no reply from her.

God, I miss my previous company in this aspect. Those guys were smart and encouraged me in that front. Not even in the faintest dreams can I see them letting this slip through. They would have devoured this opportunity.

Maybe I am wrong in understanding this whole situation. Maybe the client was testing the waters. Maybe all she wanted was an estimate to benchmark with. But STILL, there was at least some chance for us to get some billable work for a few weeks.

The point I would like to stress here is – WE NEVER EVEN TRIED. We missed this one right under our nose. And I hate it when I come to think that I could not do anything about it.

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