I have been in a company called Cybersoft that develops software for four full years after graduation and one year when I was in college. The company is not like the other IT companies in Ethiopia, it purely does software and software only. It has been more than 12 years since it emerged. The first time I went to the company was when I was about to go out for a practical attachment program for the summer. They had a project in the University I was learning, Mekelle University. The scope of the project was to automate the record office of the university and two other features, scheduling and student placement. It has a limited budget and time, it was not more than two years.
The actual time it took was more than five years. I have witnessed similar scenarios of project time limit extensions. After I graduate, I joined the team of developers working on the software for universities. There were no new clients coming to the ‘solution line’, as we call it back there, after I joined the team. All we did was maintenance and support work. I was not interested in that and I changed a product to work on. Luckily, I get the chance and joined the team that works on supply chain management system. They were trying to build from scratch. The earlier version was not an easy one for them to understand and modify. I changed to other applications and have worked with lots of clients. I am not trying to tell you how much I gained in terms of technical experience, but rather lots of ‘chigir’ (It means ‘Problem’ in Amharic).
Currently, I am working at Johns Hopkins University as an application developer. Things are perfect for me here. But, on part time basis I consult a Client University for the automation of the BPR, Business Process Re-engineering. I am responsible to design the whole system and supervise the company that is going to develop the system. One of the reasons I wanted to write this blog is this email I received from the IT team of the university today. I tried to give them a document which shows what the big picture looks like. They have also ‘burnt’ their finger working with lots of companies (I put it as they said, who knows who burnt who). The email was a comment on the document I sent. They were telling me to add a module for project management. It came to my mind the article I saw years before while we were trying to build an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. It states that one of the main reasons for the failure of most ERP systems is that they are too ambitious.
When I was in Cybersoft, we had once been working to enhance the development process so that our software projects close with in time and budget. We came up with the latest possible development methodology, Scrum. We tried to start one project using this; all I remember is the first few days me and my other friend coming to the daily meet up but not the others. I am sure, the technical capability of the developers is competent as that of India and the rest of the world. This can be seen with the guys who left to the US and are working at Microsoft, who have been once at Cybersoft. I know there is a lot to say, which I will add more in the coming posts, and invite others to say what they feel. Currently, I’m worried about the project which will either make-or-break my consulting carrier.