Scope Creep, or Did You Give Me Incorrect Product Goals To Start With?

Senior Demon Reveals All

A well-dressed demon taps on his cell phone.
Me, via Heroforge

I rapped on the solid wood door and waited. Exactly 2.3 seconds later, the door opened and I greeted the room with my effervescent smile. “M’lord,” I said, pointing a purple claw at my master, “if I might trouble you a moment, I believe we nearly finished and I need your input.”

Satisfyingly, the newly-promoted El Presidente of the Infernal Domain was in the company of their inferiors, and wanted to make a show of what “responsive” was. Otherwise, I might have been waiting hours.

We stepped into my office, where I showed the output of the program they had commissioned last month. With gleaming daggers for teeth, he leaned in to peruse the datagridview, examining the columns and rows and finally, cell contents themselves. “Good…,” he said as though worried that his approval would somehow lower his esteem in my eyes. It didn’t. He called to the newly promoted replacements in the other room, conveniently close to mine to come have a look as well.

“Well, it doesn’t show the date,” said one. I took notes.

“What happens if we want multiple dates?” asked the Big Boss.

“What do you want to have happen,” I obsequiously inquired. “Do you want it to sum them up into a single line, or…?” I left the question hanging, in the hopes that they would take the proffered suggestion.

They didn’t take the bait. “No, no,” said the newly-promoted Head Demon: Operations, “we want to see a different line for each day. If we need to sum up, we’ll just do it in Hexcel, anyway.”

Nodding, I make a note. “Quite so, m’lord, but if I may offer: the entire point of this program is to remove extraneous steps. If you are going to manipulate it in that forsaken program, why not allow this one to do it for you and save yourself the punishment?”

Wordless stares returned my rhetorical query.

I laughed to defuse the moment and continued, “Ha! Foolish me, of course you want the punishment!” They laughed along, but I got the sense that no one in the room actually knew what, if anything, was funny.

The Big Boss chimed in. “I’m sure we could do with a summary if that is easiest for you, Sr. Demon.” It was a thinly-veiled trap. If I said yes — and the answer would certainly be yes by any quantitative measurement — I would lose face to the next up-and-comer who designed it more to their taste. But as I tabulated the extra cost of their request, I wasn’t sure that acquiescing was, in fact, the correct move.

“The program is worthless if it does not produce the output you need, m’Lord. It’s not a question of “easier.”

The others nodded as Big Boss ushered them out of the room. “Excellent. We’ll leave you to it, then.”

I closed my door, screaming internally. Somewhere, on the other side of the domain, an insignificant particle of wrath appeared out of nowhere and screamed with a voice too small to hear, “WHY DIDN’T YOU DEFINE THAT IN THE ORIGINAL SPECIFICATIONS, YOU CLUELESS NINCOMPOOP!” and then, just as suddenly, the speck disappeared, its energy spent.

I sat down, examining the code for the relevant section to modify, and made a note so I could find it later. Then I packed up my things and went home, where I remoted in. What? You thought the end of the workday was the end of MY workday? One doesn’t become Senior Demon in Charge of Infernal Machines by grinding a mere 9-to-5. Work-life balance is the privilege of far more insipid and evil people, like Trust Fund Babies. One shudders to think.

Happily, as I looked at the code, I realized that, in fact, all I needed was to add a couple of lines to generate the output they desired. It was over in five minutes, spitting out exactly the report they wanted.

Pleased with my work, I disconnected the remote connection. Tomorrow, I would tell the Big Boss that it was done as he commanded and I could likely take the rest of the day for a victory lap.

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Saint, husband, father, friend, employee, neighbor, in that order. Only child, orphan, poet, computer geek, missionary, lover, teacher, politico, gamemaster.

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Toby Dillon

Toby Dillon

Saint, husband, father, friend, employee, neighbor, in that order. Only child, orphan, poet, computer geek, missionary, lover, teacher, politico, gamemaster.

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