October 12th, 2001
|09:45 pm - Why can't I get a job like this?|
The dangers of scope creep
It's a bit long so...
This IT contractor and his client are discussing the growing problem of pornographic pictures on the client company's LAN. Trouble is, they can't just delete all the GIFs and JPEGs, because the few hundred porn pix are mixed in among thousands of legitimate graphics files.
So the client extends the contractor's job description: Survey all the graphics files and weed out the porn.
"The first problem," says a co-worker pilot fish, "was that our guy neglected to inform his manager of this obviously out-of-project-scope activity."
Problem No. 2 is that the porn hunt drags on for weeks, because the contractor is only doing it in his spare time.
Problem No. 3 comes a few weeks later, when the contract-services company assigns a second contractor to the client. And nobody warns the first guy that his new cubicle-mate is a woman.
So on her first day, Ms. New Contractor fills out her personnel and insurance forms at the main office, then heads over to the client site, collects her security badge, and heads up toward her new cubicle.
Which is just about when the client realizes what Mr. Old Contractor is probably doing, and starts frantically dialing his extension.
Mr. O.C.'s phone rings just as Ms. N.C. walks in to see her new co-worker obliviously clicking away, viewing one porn picture after another.
She ducks out to call the main office on her cell phone, then leaves the client site and has a minor anxiety attack. Meanwhile, Mr. Old Contractor is asking the client, "Woman? What woman?"
His other line lights up. It's his manager back at HQ, asking him what in blazes he's doing looking at porn.
"Oh yeah," he says, "I meant to tell you about that."
Ms. New Contractor's manager smoothes things over -- it's just a misunderstanding, it's complicated, go on back to the site tomorrow and they'll explain everything.
So the next day, the client escorts her back to the cubicle. But, uncomfortable talking about porn with a woman, he hasn't actually explained anything by the time they arrive, "where our guy is -- you guessed it -- looking at what has been described to me as the most lurid photograph any of them had ever seen," says the pilot-fish co-worker.
She quits on the spot, walks off the site and files a complaint against the contract-services company for sexual harassment.
At least one good thing came out of the mess, says the fish. It now serves as an object lesson used for every new-hire orientation -- on the dangers of scope creep.