in reply to IT decisions are driven by business needs

"And you abide by it."

But, in the US at least, ONLY if you are a fully protected wage slave. If you are instead a contractor/consultant type and personal, property, or capital damage is possible you either do what is right or you walk away from the contract. Wage slaves are shielded from prosecution except in certain cases of extremely egregious misconduct, but as a contractor/consultant there is no such shield regardless of any contract between the client and the consultant. In (US) law, the client is fully entitled to act in reliance upon the consultant's professional judgment and the duty of diligence is placed squarely and completely upon the consultant's shoulders.

Risk analysis. Business need. Nothing more. Excrement of the male bovine! A high flying Master of The Universe with no more conscience than that of a sack of frozen green beans might be able to rationalize that kind of thinking, but only until the rest of us hunt him down and kick him to death. Risk analysis and business need might yield an action that generates $1B in revenue over ten years with projected liability payouts of $5M, so the Master of The Universe will take it up and start flipping through the pages on jaguar.com. Meanwhile somewhere in a small town very far away a child is being born, one who will be three years old when her family is killed by a product that was unsafe only because the cost of liability mitigation would have exceeded the projected liability costs. The Master of The Universe will be trading in his three year old Jaguar that day. So I say:

Conscience. Responsibility and accountability to the society that sustains you. Nothing less. Only after these considerations are fully met do you think about risk analysis and business need.

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Re^2: IT decisions are driven by business needs
by dragonchild (Archbishop) on Apr 14, 2007 at 13:29 UTC
    This is going to sound extremely harsh and cold, but those are realities. And, frankly, I'm not sure those realities should change. Liability will always catch up with a company. Yes, some people may be adversely affected. Some of those people may be people I know and love. I will be very furious by that and attempt to address it. That doesn't mean that my philosophical stance is any different.

    Before you return back with an idea that you can predict risk, let me put this in front of you - if the current risk-averse culture had been in place a hundred years ago, we would NOT have:

    • Aspirin
    • The car
    • The plane
    • Plastics (and everything that goes along with plastic, like sterile hospitals and the Internet)
    • Coal-fired power plants (which currently provide about 60-80% of power world-wide)
    I'm sure I could come up with another 500 items like that. Risk drives innovation. Without high-risk/high-reward, there is no incentive. Think about that before you respond.

    My criteria for good software:
    1. Does it work?
    2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?
      Remaining on point, the fact is that consultants and contractors are not shielded as are employees and officers. If as a consultant or contractor you create, enable, or perpetuate a hazard the full measure of responsibility for any harm done is upon your back. In some cases, failure to mitigate a hazard is just a minor division below enabling or perpetuating it.

      Maybe your wealthy client can afford to pay out a few million and still show a profit while sleeping soundly at night, but if you cannot then you owe it to yourself to fully mind your own best interests.

      I don't care to give further voice to my opposition to laissez faire capitalism or the folly of a pseudo-religious belief in Smith's invisible hand, so I'll just let that go and spare the monastery the negative vibe.

      Be well.

      I thought about it.

      There is incentive without high risk/high reward.

        Sure. But, aspirin would never have been allowed past the current FDA, and neither would ibuprofen. The airplane would have been grounded by the current product safety commission, as would the car. Plastics tend to produce so many byproducts that the EPA would have banned all production of it. And electricity? Can you imagine a new coal-fired plant being built other than by overriding the EPA?

        The point is that all of these products were invented between 1850 and 1920. Every one of these products is key to the world as we know it. And, all of them would have been killed in infancy had they been invented today. What does that say about our current culture and its risk/reward analysis?


        My criteria for good software:
        1. Does it work?
        2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?