Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jumping into Existing Projects

For the last 6 months, I've had the good fortune to work on a number of awesome projects. Things that I would love to show to other people and brag about, but I always hesitate because they aren't unconditionally awesome--and they aren't all mine.

As part of my contracting gig, I've jumped into a number of projects that were about 75% finished. My job was to polish them up and get them ready for the app store. While I'm really proud of the work I've done, there are several lingering problems that I really wish I could go back and "do right." Most of these are existing features that worked (more or less), and we just didn't have the time or money to fix.

There were also a number of management-level decisions that I didn't entirely agree with. Things like the way we handled in-app ads. I mean, I understand. My client needs to make money. Hell, I want them to make money. After all, I want them to keep paying me. But, it would have been nice if we could have toned things down a bit. Still, they asked for it; I implemented it. No shame in that.

Mostly, though, I don't want to look like I'm taking credit for someone else's work. After all, they lead the horse to water--I just got it to drink. Or, in other words, I didn't make it, I just made it awesome.

The really weird thing is that this uneasy feeling goes cuts other way as well. I often find myself having trouble talking to my clients, especially when things start to go wrong.

I mean, I don't want to be THAT guy. You know the one. The guy who is always whining about the last person who had his job. Always finding some way to blame them or excuse his poor performance on them. In an ideal world, I want to be the one who finds the problems, owns the problems and fixes the problems. But when my clients are pestering me for results, and I'm fighting to meet a tight deadline, and I just spent the last 15 hours cleaning up someone else's mess...well, it's hard to find a constructive way to express my concerns. I mean, let's be honest, (and I'm sure Obama would have my back here) sometimes it really is the Bush Administration's fault. Or in my case, it's the fault of whatever knuckle-typing orangutan they hired to cobble this thing together.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good orangutan. But, let's face it, they are the hippies of the simian world. If you need a sidekick to ride on your hog and watch your back at the roadhouse, then a orangutan is definitely the way to go. But, despite the convincing neck beard, they should not be allowed anywhere near code.

And I guess that's the real lesson here. Don't hire orangutans. They may work for bananas, but eventually you'll have to hire someone like me to come in and shovel out their poop. In the long run, those will become the most expensive bananas you've ever purchased.