A recent road trip to the High Plains made me think about the way we, as consultants, deal with customization requests. Come along and I’ll share a story.
I’m driving up towards Oklahoma from Fort Worth and this is my first visit to this part of the country. I am just amazed at the absolute flatness of it all. You can see all the way from here to what seems like almost the edge of forever. There’s not much to break up the view, truth be told, as the trees have all disappeared as you drive north from the city up to the plains. Suddenly it hits you that the scenery’s changed out from under you. Except for the big rigs and the occasional coal train, there’s nothing taller than a cow to block your seemingly eternal view. And in the middle of your reverie, they come in flocks from out on the horizon like the alien crafts from War of the Worlds. They. As in wind turbines. They’re an architectural wonder to some. I see them as a necessary evil – we need the power to make our modern lives work – and a blight on our country’s natural beauty. Did they have to be such an eyesore? Couldn’t we find a better way to get the job done without marring the vista at sunset?
And here’s where my story comes together. When you’re called upon to customize systems for a particular client, how many of us do what’s expedient (as opposed to elegant) just because it saves an hour of time? Especially if it looks like a quick win, all of the dirty work is under the hood, and the scars are all in places nobody but us know about? It’s always easier to quickly chop things out of the way than to carefully disable and tactically hide them. You say to yourself that your client will never need that functionality – they’ll appreciate you getting it out of the way quickly and inexpensively. And, if they eventually do need it, it can always be added back in at a later date, and with “later” dollars. But isn’t that sort of the same sort of thinking that got us those grey, steel towers? The urgent need for clean power today, above all else, seemingly overshadows the need to live in harmony with the natural order?
Before you go running for that delete key, take the time to consider the “development environment” and strive to come up with that elegant solution that not only meets the customer’s requirements, but doesn’t pollute the system you’re working on. Even if it isn’t put into words, your customer will thank you in the end for your effort to keep things beautiful.
-Jeffrey Bromberger, Consultant – CISA, CRISC
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