Thursday, January 7, 2010
About the same time that Texas became a nation (1934, to become a state nine years later), Richard Henry Dana, Jr., began writing an American classic novel called "Two Years Before the Mast" - an intriguing story of his last two years as a common sailor on board the Alert. He finished it about 1840, five years before Texas became a state via a treaty between the two nations. It has become my considered opinion after 30 years in service to various software vendors and 15 years working with rulebase vendors, (I call it "30 Years Before the Mast") that their engineers should pass a two-year (or more) training course as a consultant for that company BEFORE EVER being allowed to touch one line of code.
I say this after having spent considerable time with engineers who work for various (really) major rulebase companies. I have not encountered one (not one at the engineering level) who has ever had to make his living working with customers and, as a direct result, has absolutely no idea about how the their tool is actually used. I do know that there are those who help with consulting who have served their time in engineering, but not the reverse; except for Dr. Charles Forgy and Paul Haley. OK, there may be one or two more but I don't know them.
So, is there a problem? You betcha, Red Ryder!! And a major problem it is as well. It seems that you can't communicate with these guys about real-world problems because they can not grasp the entire problem at once and possibly foresee other problems that might result from their "quick fix" solution. So they slap a band aid (plaster to you English guys) on the problem and really hope and pray that it actually works.
Now, Heads UP senior engineering management guys: make sure that your staff has "real world" experience in actually USING your software BEFORE allowing them to make even the first modification.