the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese

3.3 Keep Failures Away

There is a succession of failures in developing programs. One develops a useful program with failures,ascertainment of the causes, and the improvement. Sometimes it is better to throw away a program existing and to remake the program. And sometimes it is better to stop developing it. I say, it is human being that makes programs and that is apt to mistake, it is natural that there are lots of failures in developing programs. Some books are published about what failures computer developers make. But it is regrettable that there are few books written by Japanese, and that, if any, the authors' technical level is all doutful. The believable are only books translated. ------ especially series of Mr. Weinberg are famous.

By the way, aim of this book is not to analyze the failures developers make, but to write advice valuable to directors who keep them. Actually, it is difficult to do so. At least, I'd be happy if I make the present situation known as exactly as possible, and decrease silly judgment.

While developing, that is, having men work, we came to know their ability. Especialy, the engineers came from a variety of companies, it is easy for us to compare them. So, on and on,i t turns out whether one is able or not. It is then that problem happens.

Now, one would be a good manager if he pick out the incapable engineers from the project. But they would complain about that, and lay the groundwork so as not to be picked out.

Generally speaking, how would they behave?

Once, I took on a work to make a program existing to work in another computer. We call this work "porting". The program came. At first glance, it was very awkward one nobody could imagine. It is so hard to see with head clear that, drinking sake, I discussed with fellows how awful it was.

Some days later, we found the company which had made it. Because there were poor documents, and we wanted to ask directly the engineers how they had made, and to do so saved us futile efforts in porting, we asked a man in charge of the company which had gave us the work. And we met them.

Different from us, they had on neat suits, and seemed to display that they were serious office workers. But, before long, their incapability of technique began to be exposed. At first of the meeting,they explained with confidence. But as we asked, they began to talk with perplexity little by little, and what they said became unreasonable. Well, we had already known their incapability before we saw them. It was imaginable from the program. Rather that, we wanted to see their faces. This is why we met them.

My surprise is why a company have to ask such a company to make programs. There are companies with better skill, that is, more capable engineers than them anywhere. I think, if one would catch a girl walking somewhere, and teach her to program, she would make much better one.

For a long time, the man in charge had asked the company to make programs. So he knew the fact,of cause. Regardless of that, he had the company make programs. A honest company would be able to make a honest program at no more than half price he had paid. Manetarily speaking, this is loss of hundreds of millions of yen.

Far from it, the program controled the stocks of important products for the company. So the quality of the program made great difference for salespersons.

My wonder is why he did nothing regardless of that the state is obvious to anyone. But, actually, such a case often happens. The bigger an enterprise is, the more it has such a one.

Nobody tells me the reason definitely. Though this is a supposition, there being such a problem and changing developing company would makes the man in charge to be blamed for the fault that he have ordered. I don't know whether he is blamed or not. But it is obvious that he would be reprimanded from his superior for that. Probably this is why he keeps the present. To do nothing makes no problem.

Copyright 1996, 1998 Hirofumi Fujiwara. Translated by H.M.
No reproduction or republication without written permission.

the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese