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Lavasoft Company is developing new website software for a corporate
client. The project starts out when a few Lavasoft staffers meet with the
client to create a list of user needs and requirements, which they then turn
over to the Lavasoft design team.
The project manager, Lakshmi Sihgh, feels that the kind of system best
suited to the user’s needs is more or less obvious, and to address the needs
she creates some bullet points and flow-charts. She then presents these to
the design team and asks if anyone has questions. Some people are
concerned that the approach as stated by the bullets and charts is too vague,
but Lakshmi assures them that the vagueness will subside as details of the
system are defined.
To reduce outside interference, the team works in relative isolation of
other development teams in the company. Daily the team is forced to
interpret the bullet points and high-level charts and to make design
decisions. Whenever there is disagreement about interpretation, Lakshmi
makes the decision. The team creates a list of detailed system specifications
and the project is considered on schedule. Upon working to the
specifications, however, issues arise concerning the system’s compatibilitywith the client’s existing site. Further, some of the specifications call for
technical expertise that the team lacks. Also, in a review of the original user
needs, the team discovers that some specifications are unrelated to the
needs, and that for some needs there are no specifications.
The team drops some specifications and adds new ones. This requires
eliminating some of the existing code, writing new code, and retesting the
system, which puts the project behind schedule. Resistance grows to
changing the specifications further since that would require even more
recoding and put the project further behind. Lakshmi adds people to get the
project back on schedule. Eventually the system is ready for installation,
although it is 2 months late. Because of the additional people added to staff
the project, Lavasoft does not make a profit. Because the specifications were
incorrect, the system is not fully compatible with the client’s website and
Lavasoft must continue to work on it and introduce “fixes.”

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