Dan turned to Bill. "Okay, Chief, the floor's yours. Tell us how the actual work is going on the RMS application—or should I say applications?"
Bill opened the binder in front of him on the table. About 3 inches thick, it was divided into code listing, screen shots, and project plans and schedules. He pulled out a four-page Gantt chart covered with check marks and scribbles.
"Beth and Sam have been doing the bulk of the work on the project, but they've had some help from about four other people in the department. Basically, we've divided the work as follows: Beth is doing the business layer on the SQL side, the Win32 client in Visual Basic, and the Web-based Outlook interface. Sam is doing the business layer on the Exchange side, the database design and the data access layers, and the Web interface for the timesheets.
"Our order of work has been to design the SQL database first, then do all the business objects. Once we've got the business objects built, we could build outward in both directions at once, doing both the data access layer and the presentation or user layer. As of today, we've completed almost all of the business objects, and have some of the other objects done as well." He looked at Marilou. "The order of work we've chosen is why I can't be sure when we'll freeze the interface; it's one of the last things we do. What I can do, though, is see if Sam and Beth can do a good cut at the clients before they move to the data layer."
Marilou nodded, and Dan asked, "Have you made many changes to the design we did in the Planning Phase?"
"Nothing of great consequence," said Bill, flipping to another section of his binder. "The most significant changes have been new methods we've had to add that we didn't think of then. For example, managers approve timesheets. We had a method for employees to submit timesheets for approval, but nothing for a manager to ask for all submitted timesheets at once for review. So we added it and updated the design document."
"What about MTS?" asked Marilou. "Are you using very many transactions?"
"All over the business layer," Bill replied. "The basic rule is that anytime we write data, either new or changed, to the SQL database, we wrap it in a transaction."
"I know transactions in my area," said Jane, "but I'm not sure what MTS is."
"Microsoft Transaction Server," said Marilou, who then gave a short but effective explanation of transactions and their use in RMS. When she finished, Bill said, "That's twice this morning you've explained something so well that even I understood it, Marilou. You do pretty well for a trainer."
"That's Ms. Trainer to you, Chief," said Marilou with a grin.
"Don't forget, Bill," said Dan, "you and Ms. Trainer here are supposed to be working closely during the Developing Phase. I'm guessing by some of the comments this morning that she's somewhat out of the loop. Would that be true?"
Bill looked flustered. "I guess you would say that. I was just moving the work forward like I always have."
"I understand," said Dan calmly, "and I don't want to get in the way of the work. But, the reason User Ed is supposed to work with you is to accelerate both the production of the training and support materials and to shorten the feedback loop. Marilou's a pro, as you've already seen. She's not going to step on your toes, at least not unless they really need it, and even then I'd bet the end result will be a better product, which I know you want, Bill. When we get done today, get with Marilou and be sure she knows when your next team meetings are so she can attend."
Bill seemed all set for a retort, but taking note of the tone in Dan's voice, he sighed instead. "Sounds like just more bureaucracy to me, but since we're doing it by the book, we might as well go all the way with it."
"Thanks, Bill," said Dan. "You're right, I do want to do this exactly by the book, both as a training exercise and to prove to everyone that MSF can work. We can adjust it on future projects as we see the need; for now, though, we want to learn it the right way."