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7101ICT Professional Issues - And Social Issues in IT

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Meanwhile, in the second department mentioned in Part 1, a team is busy testing/debugging the new ERP system in preparation for integrating the two departments. There had been some problems with the new system (as Jason had found), and the team had the task of tracking this and other problems down and fixing them.

Luke Jackson, an experienced and well-respected test analyst, is the lead on this project. Helping him is a team of two analysts, one of which is on loan from the ERP vendor.

The ERP system under test has a web browser front end, with an interface that allows orders to be entered and then forwarded to a third party for fulfilment.

At first, the scope of the testing seemed manageable, but as the team got in deeper the complexity increased dramatically. As these problems were surfacing, the manager, Bernard Spillsbury, who had hired Luke suddenly, and without explanation resigned and was marched off the premises by security – all very dramatic. Theories abounded, but no-one knew for sure.

This put responsibility on Luke to fill the vacuum left by Bernard’s sudden departure.

Luke soon realised that neither of his two analysts, who had been hired by Bernard were actually competent to perform the work that needed to be done. One of the analysts was an employee of the vendor that supplied the ERP system. The other was a recent arrival in the country and still finding his feet in a new work and social environment.

Both test analysts needed more time than usual to write the test cases. Both were having difficulty comprehending the requirements and functional specifications, although Luke had put them through training to get them up to speed. When the difficulties in performing basic test preparation became apparent, Luke asked both analysts about their previous testing experiences. He found that the vendor’s man had only a bare two years’ experience, while the immigrant had only one years’ relevant experience.

As schedules slipped further, Luke found himself under increasing pressure from senior management to get back on schedule. He decided to replace the vendor supplied analyst and hire someone competent. At this, the analyst became belligerent and in Luke’s opinion, grossly unprofessional. He (Luke) decided to conduct an immediate performance review of the analyst in order to legitimise his dismissal.

At this point, Bernard Spillsbury, the manager who had hired the useless analyst suddenly contacted Luke. Bernard asked Luke to withdraw the request for a performance review. Bernard said he might want to re-hire the analyst for future projects and did not want the analyst’s reputation to be damaged. Luke refused.

Soon after this, Luke was notified that the project was to be suspended pending an enquiry. The project scope had crept to the point where delivery by the required date would be impossible, and an internal audit was to be conducted to investigate. Luke realised he had been set up to fail and found himself out of a job with a damaged reputation. The two test analysts were also let go. A new team would be brought in.

After six months of unemployment, the longest he had ever been without a job, Luke finally had a promising job in his sights. However on the morning of the interview, the meeting was cancelled, no explanation given. Luke found out later it had been Bernard Spillsbury calling in a favour with his mate in HR in retaliation for the firing of his analyst. It was becoming increasingly clear to Luke that Bernard was into some shady dealings and was prepared to go to great lengths to get his way and punish those who stood in his way.

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