We support a suite of applications on our project. Each application essentially has its own installation program. The programs get updated at least once a year for the customer. Last year there were a lot of changes required. Unfortunately it took a long time to nail down the requirements and get the changes approved. We did not have enough time to include all the changes in our initial delivery to the customer. So we put together a staged set of follow-up deliveries to include the missing functionality.

There were a number of challenges to get the full set of requirements implemented. We had more configuration management issues to develop and maintain the code at the same time. And we also encountered all the normal challenges which lengthen the development cycle. As a result, we had to take some shortcuts for some parts of the new functionality. One example is that we had to use Microsoft Excel for some of the data input. We put together some Excel templates with some macros which worked with the application and back end database.

When it came to release time, we were once again getting behind schedule. So we had to take some more shortcuts with the Excel templates we were shipping out. I think we just created an executable that was a self extracting set of spreadsheet that went to a well defined location on the file system. You would think that this is no big deal. But now you needed to install the application, then run this Excel spreadsheet extractor program to get the full implementation of our software.

Shortly after this last release, another company won the contract to maintain the software. This added to some confusion over the new application. I overheard some testers for the client stating that the application no longer had the spreadsheets on their workstation. And then the new company’s internal test team found the same problem. Apparently the development from the new team did not know to include the Excel spreadsheets with the application install. I got picked up by the new contractor. All it took was for me to figure out what was missing, and how the install was supposed to work. Then the new install developer was able to do the install right. These new spreadsheets now get installed when the main application gets installed. There is no more need to run a separate install for the Excel spreadsheets.