Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sweatshop Experiences Part 1-Tech Spech Hell


A couple of months back I left a web design company I had working for almost four years to join an offshore call center, actually the first of it's kind in East Africa..A radical career shift you might think but I was basically going from external web development to internal web dev where my systems would be used internally..

I like referring to this new place as the "Sweatshop" because its one massive industrial godown with about 100 people behind computers wearing headsets..We do have air conditioning although during this cold weather in Kenya we closing the windows as though we afraid the cold will make us shrink :-)..

I have to admit the move from a commercial web dev hub to an internal systems development setup was a bit weird but I've managed to settle in.

When I joined I was given a flight reservation system to develop, lets jus say these guys had (eventually lost the client) an airline as a client who wanted a system developed to help them do all that scool stuff you see on www.kenya-airways.com never you mind that this airline only has a few domestic routes. I had to work with the IT manager and some Business Development dudes who had no idea about systems development and are in my opinion just paid suits who seat and yap all day.

I was given a breakdown of the system, the requirements and told to come up with a timeline for delivery, oh yeah! I was also given a "Technical Specification" and I use the term loosely since it fell far short of one, considering the scope of the system.

Let me just wander of a little bit:

The need for experienced technical specification developers is something we in Africa should address. Developers are handed over to Business Dev Mangers who see systems like excel sheets even when the system will be web based. We spend hours arguing over the smallest things even when the person we arguing with has no experience whatsoever in development. Trust me I've learnt the hard way.

Anyway, there I am going through this weirdly done document, not an experience for the fainthearted.

More to come in Part 2..

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