Ahhh… that’s the first production release of my latest project at work out the door today. I can’t talk too much about specifics, but it’s not a big secret that Wotif is enabling various B2B aspects of our web site, mainly with the registered hotels. Today saw the first big step in that direction. 🙂 And it feels great to see a new project go out and get used.
It’s kind of odd, but despite working in IT for (just) over ten years, I haven’t had that feeling that often. In fact, I’ve changed jobs over the lack of that feeling twice. Let me think… there was that year when I worked on that inventory system that was never going to work. Then there was the 18 months I spent at Mincom doing “R&D”. Then there was my wonderful two years at Suncorp, where I swapped from being a contractor who got to work on interesting projects that went live to being a permanent employee who got to spend the next 24 months working on estimates for projects that were never going to get a green light, frameworks and libraries for other project teams, diving into still other teams to figure out why they were going wrong, getting yanked off projects just before they get finished due to turf wars between my manager and other managers, and oh, having a perfectly successful project being cancelled two weeks before getting finished. It’s more than a little sad that in that whole time, the closest I got to seeing a project go live was a project that I had only casual involvement with that got into an active pilot phase… And people wonder why I decided to leave. But I’m not bitter – really.
One of the things I like best about Wotif is that we have a constant focus on delivering new business value regularly. In the 8 months I’ve been there, we’ve had 3 major releases, each with a different theme of business functionality (we also had one major release with a technical theme – a database migration). And next Wednesday we have another. Oh, and we do minor releases roughly every three weeks as well. This focus really results in a solid feeling of satisfaction – you get to know that you are contributing in a meaningful way to making something a success.
What’s especially appealing about the release that went out today is that it’s something that I’ve been intimately involved in driving, from a technical standpoint (Our B/A did a great job of driving the requirements – I only solve the problem, I don’t define it). When you’re a member of an 18-person team (counting the business analysts and the Q/A staff), the personal investment isn’t that high. At least, compared to what it’s like when you’re working in a 3-person group, which is what I’ve been doing for the last couple of months (it’s actually more like a dedicated sub-team within the larger team). What went out today was my baby – a short gestation period (only 2 months), but emotional anyway. And, of course, there’s the next few releases of new functionality to go over the next six months to go yet. I’m sure my new baby will have growing pains, but she’ll be running before you know it. 🙂
 “Never ever ever try to write an application aimed to be used by about 70 people simultaneously with an Access database backend” – me, day 2 into that project.
 Translation: learning Java, spending far too much time developing web frameworks instead of using off-the-shelf ones, and developing proof-of-concepts apps only to be told that it was “too risky” to turn them into the real thing.
 Actually, I’m really not – my role at Suncorp was always going to be a more hands-off role, with a major focus on being a change agent. What I learnt at Suncorp was that I’ve got the wrong sort of personality to find that enjoyable – I was effective enough, I guess, but it was just so frustrating.
 But not as well as my real kids, of course. One of the happiest days of my life was the first time my daughter ran into the room to meet me when I got home, crying “Daddy”. She does that nearly every day now, but it’s still special. 🙂