Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Permissions Issue


Why are Enterprise Computers so hard to use? What is it about computers that terrifies corporate IT?

They're paying lots of money to have me sit around and wait for mysterious approver folks to decide if I can be given permission to install development tools. (Of course, the real work is done by off-shore subcontractors who are (a) overworked and (b) simply reviewing a decision matrix.)

And they ask, "Are you getting everything you need?"

The answer is universally "No, I'm not getting what I need." Universally. But I can't say that.

You want me to develop software. And you simultaneously erect massive, institutional roadblocks to prevent me from developing software.

I have yet to work somewhere without roadblocks that effectively prevent development.

And I know that some vague "security considerations" trump any productive approach to doing software development. I know that there's really no point in trying to explain that I'm not making progress because I can't actually do anything. And you're stopping me from doing anything.

My first two weeks at every client:

The client tried to "expedite" my arrival by requesting the PC early, so it would be available on day 1. It wasn't. A temporary PC is -- of course -- useless. But that's the balance of days 1-5: piddling around with the temporary PC. That was ordered two weeks earlier.

Day 6 begins with the real PC. It's actually too small for serious development due to an oversight in bringing me on as a developer, but not ordering a developer's PC for me. I'll deal. Things will be slow. That's okay. Some day, you'll discover that I'm wasting time waiting for each build and unit test suite. Right now, I'm doing nothing, so I have no basis to complain.

Day 7 reveals that I need to fill in a form to have the PC you assigned me "unlocked." Without this, I cannot install any development tools.

In order to fill in the form, I need to run an in-house app. Which is known by several names, none of which appear on the intranet site. Day 8 is lost to searching, making some confused phone calls, and waiting for someone to get back to me with something.

Oh. And the email you sent on Day 9 had a broken link. That's not the in-house app anymore. It may have been in the past. But it's not.

Day 10 is looking good. The development request has been rejected because I -- as an outsider -- can't make the request to unlock a PC directly. It has to be made by someone who's away visiting customers or off-shore developers or something.

Remember. This is the two weeks I'm on site. The whole order started 10 business days earlier with the request for the wrong PC without appropriate developer permissions.