Quality can be painful.


In a previous job I had to work with some awful backend devs on very large unnamed Telco.

The task was to build a small standalone app int HTML, CSS and Javascript. However the place they wanted this app was under the jurisdiction of a monstrously, inflexible, bloated CMS.

Inorder to combine the two a custom template had to be made with the main code, and all the resources had to be uploaded separately via the CMS interface.

A short time after launch, the inevitable happened, the client phoned, “we’ve got some extra budget and need a few changes and bug fixes to the code”.


What should have been a simple process was complicated by one constraint, the backend devs insisted on doing every change by themselves, by hand, rather than giving me access to the cms.

That meant that I had to make changes to the original codebase, send them an updated zip file, which they would unzip, do a diff on the files to see what I had changed, and then hand type every change into the template file.

No matter how many alternatives I suggested they were sticking to this process and sticking fast.

So, I started doing it. I zipped up the first batch of changes, filled out a spreadsheet that identified which lines had changed in relation to which bug and sent it over the wall.

What came back was, well, sub-optimal, let’s say.

Many of the changes had been missed or mistyped. It was much worse than when we started.

They were quite far away so i couldn’t go and see them so instead I phoned them.

We did a diff on the files and went through, line by line, character by character, image by image the changes.

I did this almost every night for two weeks. However, little by little it got better.

Then, after two weeks, something strange happened : they got it. They started doing the diffs properly and as hard as I searched I never saw another bug from them again.

As they were remote, I don’t know for sure what happened, maybe they started using a new app but my hope is that they got so sick of my my constant correction, they gained a higher appreciation for quality and my feedback helped change their working pattern.

So quality can be painful, but it’s worth it, so don’t give up.

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