A couple days ago, I mentioned that I’d be building a New Gaming Rig “Soon(tm)”. I wasn’t expecting to see everything come in this week, I was expecting it to trickle in over the course of this week and next.
To my extreme pleasure, the last item necessary for the build arrived yesterday. Add to this, the missus is out of town this whole weekend. So I’m going to be neck-deep in new computer pretty quickly. So in this instance “Soon ™” was a fairly short period of time.
This had me thinking about the concept of “Soon(tm).” Blizzard, as well as many other tech companies, frequently use this word and invariably disappoint their customers.
It makes me wonder. Should technology companies (specifically Blizzard) stop using ambiguous timelines? “We cannot give you a definite time-frame, so we’re simply not going to comment at this time. Well let you know when we have a definitive time-frame (aka when it’s finished).” Would that make people happier? I doubt it. I could see the argument being “You obviously have no idea of what you are doing if you can’t tell us when you’ll be done.”
Having spent a fair chunk of time as a programmer for consulting firms, I can say with a fair bit of certainty that customers demand exact numbers now. They also expect that any unforeseeables will be foreseen and accounted for from the start. They also expect that the unforeseeables will not impact cost or time-line. It’s a truly craptacular place to be in as a programmer/consultant. There’s no simple formulaic answer to this dilemma. Some times you eat the costs. Other times you put your foot down and tell the client to cough up the dough for the extra costs. On rare occasions, both parties recognize the problem for what it is and compromise by splitting the burden (cost/time/whatever). For the record, those oh-so-few rare occasions are the clients that I will bend over backwards for. Those are the clients that make working enjoyable. However, that’s a discussion for another time (and probably in a different blog-space).
While I do give Blizzard a hard time about statements like “Soon(tm)” or “weeks not months,” I understand where they are coming from. It’s a good natured razzing from one programmer to another. I’d rather they communicate with us and have to recant words at times, rather than keeping us in the dark all the time.