A Batch of Bugs

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Mike Johnson's relatively peaceful Monday morning ended abruptly when his manager, the Vice President of Information Systems, burst into his cubicle. As the VP who oversaw all of the technology running the company's business, Kyle Wong was always under stress. However, this morning, his eyes were baggier and more bloodshot than usual.

"Have you seen the monthly financial reports?" Kyle asked anxiously. Before Mike could answer no, Kyle continued, "The numbers are all wrong. The revenues are double what they're supposed to be and profits are an order of magnitude lower."

There was no question following the statement, but Mike knew what Kyle was asking: why were the numbers wrong? Mike ruled out data entry, because the numbers looked correct up to last week, and such large errors would have been caught before the reports came out.

"GlobalTech upgraded our systems last weekend. Maybe there's a bug in the financial module," Mike said hopefully. GlobalTech was the India-based outsourcing company that handled most of the actual IT operations. Kyle and Mike were two of just a handful of onsite full-time employees running the systems that supported a company making more than half a billion dollars. The bulk of the software programming, testing, and installation was carried out by GlobalTech from half a world away.

"Mike, can you call them? I'll talk to Accounting about the numbers." Kyle hurried away.

Mike picked up the phone and dialed the number for GlobalTech's support line.

"Hello, this is Thomas. How can I help you?" said the voice on the other end in a thick Indian accent.

Mike thought it was comical that Indian customer service personnel used American names in an attempt to hide the fact that they were located overseas. It reinforced his belief that these outsourcing companies were clueless when it came to why their customer satisfaction ratings were so low.

"This is Mike Johnson from IT." Mike rattled off their support contract number and waited for verification. "We have a problem with the financial reports, and I was wondering if it could be related to the upgrade last weekend?" The customer service agent led Mike through a series of scripted prompts before coming to the conclusion that neither of them knew where the bug lay. Mike asked to talk to a supervisor who was familiar with the software. After a moment of uncertainty, the man on the other end of the line put him on hold.

While Mike was waiting, Kyle returned with Amy, who took care of payroll. She looked as stressed out as Kyle. "I can't process the paychecks! ADP keeps rejecting them because the employee IDs don't match what they have on file."

Another problem from the GlobalTech upgrade? It was the only change to their IT systems in the past two weeks. It couldn't be a coincidence that both financial reporting and payroll ran into problems the first work day after the upgrade. Unfortunately, the upgrade covered most of their technology infrastructure, including networking and email. Who knew what else would go wrong?

"I'm on hold right now with GlobalTech. I'll let them know about the payroll problem too. I'm sure we'll find a solution soon," he assured Amy.

She nodded and left, and Kyle followed nervously, glancing at Mike with worry and uncertainty on his face.

After five more minutes, the hold music clicked over to a live human. "This is Vignesh, the Technical Solutions manager. Who am I speaking with?" At least he didn't pretend to have an American name.

Mike answered and described the problems they had run into.

"Yes," Vignesh said. "We are aware of some bugs in the latest upgrade. There is no estimate right now when they will be fixed. In the meantime, we recommend you shut down your systems and do not use any of our software."

"What? We can't just stop using any systems. How are we going to get any work done?"

"I'm sorry for the inconvenience. We found widespread bugs in our code base and do not recommend using any of our systems. Any further problems encountered from continued usage will not be our responsibility."

"Are you kidding me? You deployed a buggy set of software and now you expect us to just stop everything because of it?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so."

Mike knew that if he kept talking, he would only lose his temper. "Fine. We'll call you back."

He got up to tell Kyle what GlobalTech had reported, but he saw Kyle approaching with their CEO, Gary, who looked livid.

"What the fuck is going on?" Gary said by way of introduction. "I just found out that my entire inbox got emailed out to everyone on my contact list. Do you have any idea what kind of sensitive information was in there?"

Mike gulped. "Um, I just got off the phone with GlobalTech. There are some bugs in last weekend's upgrade. They recommend that we shut everything down and stop using the system."

"What the fuck did you say? Shut everything down? Hell no! I'm going to get to the bottom of this. I'll talk to those motherfuckers myself! Give me their number."

Mike gave Gary the support number and suggested that he ask for Vignesh.

The CEO stormed off, leaving Kyle standing in Mike's cube.

"What now?" Mike asked. Things were out of his control now.

For the first time that morning, Kyle smiled. "I don't know about you, but I can't wait to check my email and read everything that was in Gary's inbox."

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