“Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. It’s a tale of the daily interactions of a grumpy developer and a hapless business analyst.”
It’s Monday morning as I stride purposely through the portal of endeavour that is our office entrance. Only a small detour to acquire one the canteen’s finest bacon rolls delayed my desk arrival. I sit masticating the cured pigs flesh and supping my tea, when Ken sidles, almost apologetically up to my desk
“Errr, hi?”, a greeting phrased as a question is never an indication that something pleasant is about to ensue.
So Ken procrastinates. “How was the weekend?”
“Fine.” I reply.
We exchange pleasantries for the next minute or two. Ken is excited about his holiday, I can’t afford a holiday because my children selfishly demand food and clothes on a regular basis. Right now, I hate Ken just a little bit, but I don’t let on. Blissfully unaware of his conversational tactical miscalculation, he proceeds,
“You know that field?”
‘That Field’ as it has become known is currently the bane of my life.
“Yes” I reply “Weelll, ‘The Business’ want you to add validation when you tab off it.”
This being one of the 31425 sins of development, I take a deep breath. “They told you that did they?”
“Well, no, they told ‘The Prince’ and he told me”.
This was different. ‘The Prince’ was the affectionate name for the lead business analyst. He rarely passed on things like this to his underlings. Ken must have been unlucky. I don’t believe the requested change is a good thing, and think the ‘The Business’ are wrong, so I push back with my opening gambit.
“Ok, so do you know that whenever they tab over that field, they’ll be halted by an annoying text box, and then they won’t be able to move past it until they enter something they’re not interested in or need in that field?”
Ken was ready for this. “Yes, they are. They say it’s essential, and are prepared to accept the annoyances.”
Not to be outflanked just yet, I retort. “What did UX have to say on this?”
Ken is also ready for this. “We already do it on ’That Other Field’, and to be honest, this tab is beyond the help of UX.” I really don’t want to do this, so I conjure my trump card. “Well, it’ll take 10 days”. (It’ll probably take 10 minutes, but it’s a stupid idea, so I want to avoid it as much as possible.). “Because there’s cross validation with ‘Yet Another Field’ so do you want that updated before or after…[blah blah]…server-side vs client-side validations….[moan, moan, moan]….other factors.
Ken left my desk somewhat deflated, and got back to work. I turned back to my now-tepid bacon roll and polished it off.
Some while later ‘mid-dev’ flow, I’m halted by a puzzle about some tiny fine-grained, but essential, implementation detail. I turn my head, and noted to my delight that Ken is sitting at his desk. Showing no signs of the bruising encounter that I’d offered up earlier, he brightly turns to me, brimming with helpfulness and friendliness.
“Ken, you know that cell on the charges grid – the one in the bottom left hand corner with the value that’s based on the one the second field in the middle one, and the third field in the top right, but only when we have the drop down in the XQBDD cell when it’s a Company scheme?”
“Yes, I know it well.” Ken grins.
“Well I’ve found a discrepancy whereby if you have a value in the fourth hidden field, then the string to integer conversion won’t work because of some other thing”
“Ah yes, that’s fine, and here’s why…” Ken then explains concisely and clearly the exact detail of the requirement with reference to scores of other competing and complimentary requirements. He gives the history of the decision-making process, and the motivation for it. He goes onto acknowledge that there is maybe an ambiguity, and as I am speaking he opens up the requirements documentation and adds a clarification. Furthermore, he assures me that the testers will be updated and correct QA will be undertaken around this. His depth of knowledge and understanding, and sheer grasp of ‘The Business’ requirements is quite breath-taking.
But he doesn’t know everything. “I’ve got a rough idea of calcs surrounding this but if you want more detail, I can ask a calcs BA from the calcs team.” I’ve had a calcs BA at my desk before. They can do things to Excel that would make an actuary’s eyes water. I decline on this occasion.
I feel guilty about our earlier encounter now. I reflect on how this professionalism and knowledge is typical and genuinely representative of all the business analysts I’ve worked with, and resolve to be a little less abrasive in future encounters.
“You know what, Ken, that field change earlier – I’ve had a look and reckon it’s only half a day dev work.” (It’s still 10 minutes, but I want to retain an illusion that I’m performing miracles on a daily basis).
“Don’t worry.” Says Ken. “On reflection, I think you’re right”. “Don’t you need to ask ‘The Prince’?” I enquired.
“Nah! Said Ken, he’s already given it it’s seal of approval.” And with that he brandished document replete with ‘The Prince’ ‘seal of approval’ stamp.