Agile 2018

Agile 2018
Speaking at Agile 2018

Monday, February 8, 2016

Say I told you so.

Taxes should be more efficent
It is tax time in the United States.  It is an annual ritual where you spend a few hours filling out paperwork either to determine if you are going receive a refund or owe the federal government money.  This week the IRS reported that they had hardware failures to their systems which has been holding up tax returns.  This week I wanted to talk about this and what it means for the good people in the Agile community.

When you work for large bureaucratic organizations, an agile professional is living in a constant state of paranoia.  This is because you lack control over many of the systems you are responsible.  For instance, pushing code to production is not the development team pushing the code but an implementation team located in another country taking a deployment package and then moving it to production.  When a customer has a problem they are not communicating with the development team but with call center located in a different time zone.  You may not be in control but when something goes wrong an executive is going to ask you what went wrong.

It cannot think of a more bureaucratic organization than the American National Government.  Civil service labor rules, political politicization, and the institutional inertia and you have a recipe for poor service.  I suspect that is what happened with the IRS this week.  I am sure a few people in the IRS asked to stress test the tax servers in November to make sure they could handle the traffic.   Unfortunately, those concerns were vetoed by manager appointed by the President or congress and the work was put off.

Flash forward to tax season and the servers for the IRS are swamped with the traffic from people looking to get refunds.  The hard ware could not handle the traffic and it crashed.  Then for the remainder of week the server teams at the IRS have been trying to fix the situation.  In the meantime, people are waiting for their taxes to be processed.

As an agile professional, you need to say “I told you so,” and remind others when they are about to make the same mistake again.  That said, I don’t think the IRS is going to have these problems next year.

Until next time.