Monday, September 3, 2007

Penny Wise Bargain Sale

Once upon a time, somewhere between Atlanta and Tallahassee, in the farming belt of South Georgia, lived a successful farmer by the name of Farmer Jack. He grew everything that grew, and sold everything that sold. In the process, he made a lot of money and into this moneyed world came his sweet obedient daughter called Penny.

Now, during Penny's 16th summer, she informs dad that she wants to start a business on her own. "Here Penny, take this million dollars and do what you please with it—and if you get hungry spending it, here's an apple, the best of the day's pick," said the doting dad. "Thanks, Pa," was Penny's reply.

Now, although Penny was a farm girl, she knew about the Internet. Being an entrepreneur like her dad, she decided to sell her prize apple on the 'Net. The only thing she needed now was for someone to build her one of those things called a Website.

Having heard the latest buzz about off-shoring, Penny knew about Indian software programmers. And the object of her entrepreneurial attention not only fit that description well, but turned out to be a really smart old gizzard named Vish.

"Vish, can you build me a Website to sell this apple?" asked Penny.
Not one to turn down business offers, Vish said, "Sure thing, Penny—but it will cost you some."
"Here's a million dollars and that's all I got."
"But Penny, I don't need that much," said honest Vish.
"Well, do what you want with it—but build me a Website to sell my apple," said Penny, and off she went to play with her cows.

Being conscientious and truthful, Vish promised himself to give Penny her money's worth. His pockets brimming with money, and eyes glazed with visions of a powerful portal, he quickly assembled his team of analysts, designers, graphic artists, architects, and programmers. Then he gave them their marching orders—"Build me a portal, one like no other on the 'Net!" and sent them off to huddle over their monitors.

Soon enough, Vish reported to Penny "Here are the Vision and Requirements documents." "Vish, what is all this about a robust and scalable portal on a configurable and federated framework? I don't see any mention of my apple or the Website!"
"Not to worry. This is much bigger than a single Webpage with an apple on it. You can buy your fertilizers and your equipment through it, and sell your apples and potatoes too, all while keeping track of how much money you make and what you owe the taxman." "Whatever! Vish, as long as I am able to sell that apple I am fine." And off went Penny to play with her chickens.

Not much later, Vish showed Penny the Use Case Diagrams, and the use cases with the actors and the scenarios for cataloging the products, searching for matches, making payments, and processing the orders.

Not having read as much paper during all of her school days, Penny pleaded miserably, "Vish, do you have to show me all these to build the Website?" "Well, it's the standard process, Penny. We need your buy-in on "what" we are building. It ensures you get what you want." "Well, I don't understand all this, but if you say that there is place for the apple and the Website—I have no problems."

Next, Vish's designers showed Penny the object model and the screen mockups and report layouts and the database schema.

"Remember last time, when we showed you the "what." This is the "how" we are building the portal." Losing her patience, Penny whined, "Vish, all I see here is product, order, customer, price and notification, but no apple! Speaking of which, I can't hold on to it any more. I better sell it today or eat it!!" "That's taken care of. Here, take a look. The whole apple-buying world is looking at a picture of your apple online. And look, here are some orders too—pick an order and ship your apple, Penny." "WOW! That was fast. I'm off to my daddy to tell him my success story" And off she went to play with her horses.

Yet relentless Vish and his team plodded on, and finally after a sleepless month they had all the rest of Penny's portal completely ready. They called the site "Penny Wise Bargain Sale." Satisfied that they had delivered what Penny wanted and built what she paid for, the team went home for a well-deserved rest.

But just as I was putting the finishing touches to this fairy tale and turning in for the night, the phone in Vish's bedroom rang—and who do you think was on the line?

"Hey Vish, this is Farmer Jack."
"Good evening, what can I do for you?"
"I hear from Penny how you sold her apple without ever going to the market. Was wondering if you could help me sell my apples and oranges, potatoes and tomatoes, corn and cotton, too."
"Farmer Jack, you are all set to go. Penny's portal can handle all of that and more."
"Really? Great! Just one more thing, Vish. The company I purchase all my fertilizer and feed from, and the meat-packing company I sell my cattle to—they want to do business with me on a computer, they call it some goat exchange or something. Can you build that too? I'll pay you handsomely."
"What they are talking about is Electronic Data Exchange and it's already built into the portal, Farmer Jack. What's more, your Penny has paid for all that."
"Now, isn't that something? I knew Penny had more brains than she cared to show—but this sure beats everything. It's time for me to turn over my business to Penny, and maybe you should think about working for her. And good night, Vish."

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