In this section, we invite registered members to share stories about software development.

The Missing Stakeholder

Author: John Thomas

When I worked for a large telecommunications company, he worked on a project to automate the re-routing of “intercept calls” via a combination of voice recognition and keypad presses. In this case, we worked closely with the network people, the budget people, the operators, the union, the management and so on. We thought we had thought of every relevant stakeholder and brought them into the process. Then, when we actually went to install the system, the people in charge of the various physical locations (“Branch Offices”) where they equipment had to go, refused to allow the systems to be installed unless all of our documentation was reformatted into one that a hardware vendor used (and, therefore one that the maintenance people were familiar with). We agreed to do this and reformatted all our documentation only to discover that the corporate lawyers told us we would not be allowed to publish such documentation because the vendor had copyrighted their format.

Eventually, these issues were resolved, the system was deployed for several years and saved the company money. Clearly, however, we could have avoided a lot of anguish, as well as time delays, if we had extended our circle of stakeholders. In this case, we were simply ignorant of who the complete set of those stakeholders were. There are certainly many similar stories in today’s complex society wherein people really do want to include all relevant stakeholders but finding them can be challenging.

A pattern relevant to this story is Who Speaks for Wolf?

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