Sometimes I Wonder...

A few years ago I noticed that the (then, it's been redesigned since) United Airlines website had a designer gone berserk. Taking his/her daily angst out, he/she had populated the "title" field (the one that's normally Miss/Mrs/Ms/Mr/Dr or some variant) with every title he/she could find. All the military titles were available... and so were all the Catholic Church rankings, as well as much of the British peerage system. I always wanted to try flying as a Duke, but, alas, was worried that security would stop me from flying fraudulently.

This week I noticed that the hospital website has a similar thing going.

I'm not sure who came up with this list of options, but I have a feeling it wasn't anyone in customer service. It has the look of "told the programmer to make a list, don't bother me with the details." It's not a list based on anything that would make sense logically -- it's not, for example, built from a phone book or Google search (no Southern Baptist, no United Methodist). It's not built from a list of churches with large populations in the US (Holiness Pilgrim but no Reformed Judaism?). It's not even a list with the right names (the Latter Day Saints, not Mormon).

You can't just dump everything on the programmer and assume they can "figure it out." The business needs can only be met if the business group does their job.

Did United really want me being able to select, "Monseigneur" on my ticket? No. Did it slip through the cracks from a combination of developer wackiness and poor specifications? Probably. Does the local hospital really want to imply that there can be 50+ flavors of Christianity, but only one Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism? Probably not.

This is a failure, ultimately, of project management. Requirements weren't clarified, and in the end, the product suffers for it.

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