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They Just Wanted To Borrow Some 50’s Music

August 1, 2016

Rodney, do you have any 50’s music?

Ah. . .sure. What do you need?

Well, Jack’s uncle and aunt are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and we wanted to provide some music for the party.

Okay, what kind of music do you want?

We just said, 50’s style.

No, they didn’t. My neighbors approached me over the weekend with the above request. On the surface, it’s a simple ask, right? Find music that was recorded in the 1950’s. 

I have over 7500 songs in my iTunes library. Most of them got there because I bought CD’s, burned them to MP3s and then imported them into my iTunes library. I have just about every genre represented by at least a song or two. I have every song that Billy Joel or Garth Brooks ever recorded. I have all the Beatles songs. I have old country and new county, 80’s pop and Bruno Mars, Jazz and classical, rap and hard-rock. I even have an entire CD full of famous baseball players recording commercials and another of a scientist from the Manhattan project telling funny stories about making a nuclear bomb. (Richard Feinman, he’s hilarious.)  

The point is that simply looking at when a song was recorded won’t give you a good playlist. It’s not a good enough filter. There’s a business application from this example. 

Will this project have a pre-planning meeting?

Sure, that’s where you tell us 80% of the requirements and assure us that the design is complete. 

One of the roles of an IT project manager is to translate customer requirements into software features. If the customer says, “I want to be able to look up my past customers’ purchases,” the project manager translates that to the engineering teams as 

“Program should use a SQL database to store customer information and sales history”

Oh, and I want to be able to access that information using a web browser.

“. . .with a web server front end. . .”

And customers should be able to view their previous history, but no one else’s.

“. . .with a public facing URL and Kerberos security. Also need a security database, and a method for resetting user passwords. . .”

And if they find a mistake, I want them to be able to contact us about resolving it.

“. . .with an SMTP module. . .”

Via chat.

“. . .and a real-time chat module. . .”

The PM’s job is to get as much of those requirements up front as possible. What happens to every project is that once the customer sees the design they say one of two things:

  1. Oh, I didn’t realize I needed to explain that more
  2. Can you add this one additional feature

It’s called scope creep. Well, #2 is called that. But, if the customer thinks they already asked for a feature, you are often stuck with scope creep whether you allow additional requests or not. The pre-planning meeting is crucial to make sure that what the engineering team is about to build is actually what the customer is requesting. 

Okay, let’s be a little more specific. You really have three choices when it comes to 50’s music. First, is old country. Hank Williams singing “Your chEETing hE-a-a-art.”

No. No, we don’t want that!

I didn’t think so. I’ve got lots of it, but it’s an acquired taste. Next is rock and roll. Think Elvis, Buddy Holly, the soundtrack to American Graffiti. 

Oh, well, some of the relatives are pretty conservative and I’m not sure that rock and roll would work for a wedding anniversary party anyway.

Okay, that brings us to the third category; Frank Sinatra, big band sound, and jazz. 

Yeah, let’s go with that. 

Okay. I was done, right? My wonderful project management skills prevented the disaster of Patsy Cline belting out “Crazy” at the party for two old people. 

Nope. We’re only 80% of the way to our actual design requirements. 

Do you want me to burn the MP3’s to a CD, or copy them to a thumb drive or what?

Well, the party is today in a couple of hours and it’s down in Provo.

Oh. . .well, I’ll make a playlist and why don’t you just borrow my iPad?

Yes, they are that kind of neighbor’s. I was confident they would take care of my device. Okay, NOW I’m done?


Do you have some speakers we could borrow? 

Sure, I think I’ve got several old PC speakers.

Well, it’s a pretty big room. Do you think we could borrow your Mackay speakers? 

I was offering this.

They wanted this

Well, you’re going to need the mixer board and you might as well take my cables and microphones. There are two speaker stands, a couple of mic stands and pretty much any connectors and cables you will need. 

Wow, this is exactly what we needed. Thank you so much.

The request for “some 50’s music” morphed into a jazz/Sinatra playlist, iPad and sound system capable of lighting up an entire auditorium.

I heard the party was a huge success. They went completely through the playlist twice. Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Harry ‘Connick. And no one was offended by the playlist.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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