Yes, it is a piece of cake, but ….

It is quite common for people to say that doing something is a piece of cake. It is very easy to say this especially if you are not the one doing it. I have personally heard this many times from my upper management – “oh, that should be so simple to do that you should have it implemented in a couple of hours”. Yeah, right!Piece of Cake

Like everything else, there is no free lunch. It sure might take the developer only couple of hours to write the code. But what about testing time, what about the time to fix bugs? What about the time it takes to document the new feature? What about time to test the new widget during the software updates so that there are no regressions? – God forbid if the few customers who use it are the most vociferous one who will scream bloody murder if something breaks.

Let us take the simple example of adding a checkbox to your UI – sounds simple right? Let us consider some of the details that you will have to account for.

1. What is the default value for the checkbox?

2. What should happen when the checkbox is checked or unchecked? Should the impact be immediate or time delayed?

3. Does it remember the state when selected?

4. Are there conditions that have to be satisfied before the checkbox can be checked or unchecked?

5. Does checking/unchecking automatically change the status of other UI elements? If yes, which ones?

6. Should the checkbox be grayed out in any particular case?

7. What is the label of the checkbox? If you support international languages, what are the labels in the different languages?

8. If your product is a web product, does it work well in all the browsers you support?

You can see how quickly things add up in terms of details. I am not saying that this change cannot be done in couple of hours, maybe it can be. But to say it is so easy to do may not be accurate unless you get to the nitty gritty details.

So, it sure might be a piece of cake, but it may take a long time to bake!

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3 thoughts on “Yes, it is a piece of cake, but ….

  1. As a manager, as I give assignments to my programmers, I (jokingly) say, “Anything that I don’t have to do is easy.”

  2. Have you ever noticed that manager that say this “oh, that should be so simple to do that you should have it implemented in a couple of hours”. …can never actually do the task themselves? Nor have any idea how long it should really take?

    Here’s another example; I recently had a 5 month contract to help design a complex product. The Engineer I reported to didn’t know his elbow from a 1/4-20 x 1in SHCS. His version of management was to say this to you everyday; “Everything is going OK, right?” Of course, one quickly learned the only answer he heard was Yes. Therefore, everyone always said that to him whether it was true or not!


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