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Like this article? We recommend Mistake 4: No One Asked

Mistake 4: No One Asked

The administrators for this particular company worked like many other administrators do: at the command line. The GUI tools were nice, and novice administrators relied heavily on them, but when a senior administrator needed to do something quickly, the command line usually was the answer.

Unfortunately, the software developers of the company didn't understand how the administrators worked. Some of the developers quietly viewed the administrators with contempt, considering them a whining group of ninnies.

Enter a new team leader, Abdul. For the previous five years he had worked at another company in which the administrators worked exclusively with the GUI. Abdul spent a good deal of time examining the project specifications; they all looked ready to go. He asked the other team members if the administrators had signed off on the project, and supposedly they had.

Zoom forward a year and many lines of code later. The administrators have a shiny new GUI-based administration utility, and it's a peach. Everything works. The utility is even delivered ahead of schedule. Abdul thinks he's in line for a promotion, pay raise, or something equally nice. (Maybe even that corner office that Mary didn't get.) But the scowl on the faces of the administrators says it all: The utility isn't up to snuff. It seems that no one asked about a command-line interface for the utility—something that the administrators considered essential. Abdul spent the next four months working with his team to add the required interface.

The moral of this story is that you really need to ask questions—lots of them—and assume nothing at all about a project. In this case, the mistakes were many, and everyone had their own cup of blame. The developers could have spent time with the administrators to see how they did their work. The administrators could have made sure that the specifications contained everything that they needed. Abdul certainly needed to spend more time getting acquainted with the project before moving ahead. Always be sure that what you'll provide is actually what the client needs and wants.

Those situations are bad enough. But we're only halfway through our list of eight.

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