Your System – Not Guilty As Charged

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Custom Code – Guilty as Charged

Posted by Joel Schipper on January 11, 2015


This is just anecdotal evidence that bespoke code is more often “guilty” than packaged systems.  It comes from a New York Times article on the original bike sharing company, PBSC Urban Solutions.

“While the cash problem was temporarily resolved with loans from the city, management’s attention was soon distracted by a pricing spat with 8D Technologies, the supplier that created the software for Bixi [the bike sharing software]. The city-owned company cut off its contract with 8D and developed new software on its own for future systems, including Citi Bike in New York.

[Continue reading the main story]

That hurried software was a disaster, not just because it was full of problems, but also in terms of customer relations. Jon Orcutt, who championed Citi Bike during his time as director of policy at the New York City Transportation Department, said it picked PBSC’s technology based on the earlier software.

“That was not the system we got,” he said. Mr. Orcutt, who left the department last year, blames the software, in part, for the introduction delays and other problems with Citi Bike. At one point, he said, docking stations failed 10 percent of the time to release a bike.

Clearly, bespoke code requires a different set of quality assurance paradigms, both by developers and by requisitioners, to avoid the pitfalls of being “guilty as charged.”

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