Professional Issues in Computing: Case Study In Confidence: Do Not Distribute 1 3410ICT & 7101ICT Assignment Case Study: 2015 Parts 1 & 2 Part 1 PAST COMES BACK TO HAUNT ERIKA Erika Flynn (above) had a difficult start in life. Coming from a disadvantaged background she has risen above adversity to become a respected IT consultant specialising in cyber-security. When she was 16, Erika had been charged with drink-driving while unlicensed and under-aged. She was also charged with resisting arrest. Erika had received a 12 month suspended jail sentence, and was placed on a five year good behaviour bond. Now in her 30’s, Erika had worked hard to put it all behind her. An old school acquaintance, Jamie Coltrane, joined the staff. Jamie was something of a gossip and predictably the news of Erika’s notorious past soon got around. Her character and suitability to work in cyber-security was called into question by senior management. In a tense interview she was persuaded to resign and receive a good reference, or be fired in disgrace. Erika opted for the former. THE ERP ACQUISITION Erika finds herself unemployed, thanks to her youthful indiscretions and a gossipy co-worker. Determined to move on, she does the rounds of the employment agencies and eventually finds herself a job with a state government department, working on an ERP acquisition project with a need for enhanced security. She is to analyse the user requirements. There are only two serious contenders for the supply of the new system; companies with the track record and resources to do the job. Two other contenders are also in the race for this 15 million dollar prize, though they are outside chances due to being smaller with little reputation. One day, Erika receives a call from Roger Latham, a senior salesman with one of the two main ERP contenders. Erika wonders how he got her number. Roger is business-like and genuineseeming. He asks Erika if they might meet to discuss the requirements of the project. It seems a reasonable request. They meet at a coffee-shop near the department’s offices. The meeting is productive. It leads to a second, and a third. Erika maintains a professional attitude in her dealings with Roger, but it is clear to her that he wants to shift their relationship from a business to a personal level. It is tempting but she knows the real reason for Roger’s interest to influence her recommendation for preferred supplier. When Roger suggests they go away for the weekend, she firmly declines the invitation. Professional Issues in Computing: Case Study In Confidence: Do Not Distribute 2 THE SECURITY LOOPHOLE It is 12 months later; the ERP system has been installed and is working according to requirements. Erika is still a contractor with the department; her role has changed to be the manager of an integration project that will allow her department’s database to be interoperable with that of another government department. Sharing a common database will save both departments some money, time and effort. One day, Jason Congreve, a member of Erika’s team comes into her office and sits down with a worried expression. He tells her that he has just discovered a vulnerability in the other department’s database security that had gone unnoticed and which had the potential to embarrass if not compromise the other department, though not their own. Knowing well the silo mentality that exists in most bureaucratic organisations, Erika reasoned that by raising the issue she would be creating a political time-bomb. It could do more harm than good from an inter-departmental politics point of view. She thought, this is not our problem. Let those guys find it for themselves; they would not thank us for showing them up. So she told Jason ‘leave it with me, I’ll look into it’ fully intending to take no further action. When Jason asked her about it a month later, she said ‘it’s their problem Jason, nothing for you to worry about’. JASON THE WHISTLEBLOWER But Jason is a fellow who believes in doing the ‘right thing’ as he sees it. In this instance, he believes he should make more of an effort to get this matter sorted out. Unsatisfied with Erika’s indifferent response, he goes to Erika’s boss, Elizabeth Hadley. Elizabeth listens to Jason’s concerns, makes a few notes, thanks him and sends him back to work. Elizabeth and Erika have a conversation soon after, with Erika explaining her thinking on why it might be best to allow the other department to sort out their own problems. As a seasoned manager, Elizabeth is inclined to agree with Erika’s position which would avoid an interdepartmental dispute about who was at fault. It is decided to leave the matter as it is. Elizabeth needed to be first satisfied that it would not impact on their department. But Jason is feeling aggrieved, having been mildly reprimanded by Erika for not observing the proper chain of command by going over her head to Elizabeth. Jason is feeling somewhat self-righteous. He believes people should be made aware, so he contacts a journalist he knows and gives him the scoop. The journalist says this is a fairly thin story, but he can beat it up to be a scandalous public interest story. The piece is duly published in a nationally syndicated newspaper and Elizabeth, Erika and about 10 other people have some serious explaining to do, plus both departments are made to look bad. Professional Issues in Computing: Case Study In Confidence: Do Not Distribute 3 THE USER PAYS AND PAYS In a large organisation like Erika and Elizabeth’s department, software development and maintenance work is charged against certain budget codes. Maintenance work (as distinct from development work) is allocated as a fixed amount and charged to an internal code. But this fixed amount is not usually enough to cover the actual cost of work. Development work is always funded by the customer. It has become common practice to include a portion of the maintenance work in with the development work that will be funded by the customer (who does not know the scope of the development task, and therefore does not know how much it should cost). Elizabeth Hadley (Erika’s boss) routinely authorises such billings supplied to her by her project managers, Erika among them. It is considered standard practice. Part 2 TESTING TIMES FOR LUKE JACKSON Meanwhile, in the second department mentioned in Part 1, a team is busy testing/debugging the new ERP system. There had been some problems with the new system (as Jason Congreve had found), and the team had the task of tracking this and other problems down and fixing them. Luke Jackson, an experienced and well-respected test analyst, is the lead on this project. Helping him is a team of two analysts, one of which is on loan from the ERP vendor. The ERP system under test has a web browser front end, with an interface that allows orders to be entered and then forwarded to a third party for fulfilment. At first, the scope of the testing seemed manageable, but as the team got deeper the complexity increased dramatically. As these problems were surfacing, the manager who had hired Luke Jackson suddenly, and without explanation resigned and was gone – all very mysterious. Some thought it was because he’d fallen foul of senior management, some thought it was for budgetary reasons. No-one knew for sure. This put responsibility on Luke to fill the vacuum left by the sudden departure of Bernard Spillsbury. Luke soon realised that neither of his two analysts, who had been hired by Bernard were competent to perform the required work. One of the analysts was an employee of the vendor that supplied the ERP system. The other was a recent arrival in the country. He was still finding his feet in a new work and social environment. Both test analysts needed more time than usual to write the test cases. Both were having difficulty comprehending the requirements and functional specifications, although Luke had put on training workshops to get them up to speed. When the difficulties in performing basic test preparation became apparent, Luke asked both analysts about their previous testing experiences. He found that the vendor’s man had only a bare two years’ experience, while Professional Issues in Computing: Case Study In Confidence: Do Not Distribute 4 the immigrant had only one years’ experience in testing. As schedules slipped further to the right, Luke found himself under increasing pressure to get back on track. He decided to replace the vendor supplied analyst and hire someone competent. At this, the analyst became belligerent and in Luke’s opinion, grossly unprofessional. He (Luke) decided to conduct an immediate performance review of the analyst in order to legitimise his dismissal. At this point, Bernard Spillsbury, the manager who had hired the useless analyst suddenly contacted Luke. Bernard asked Luke to withdraw the request for a performance review. Bernard said he might want to re-hire the analyst for future projects and did not want the analyst’s reputation to be damaged. Luke refused. Soon after this, Luke was notified that the project was to be suspended pending an enquiry. The project scope had crept to the point where delivery by the required date would be impossible, and an internal audit was to be conducted to investigate. Luke realised he had been set up to fail and found himself out of a job with a damaged reputation. The two test analysts were also let go. A new team would be brought in. After six months of unemployment, the longest he had ever been without a job, Luke finally got a promising job in his sights. However on the morning of the interview, the meeting was cancelled, no explanation given. Luke found out later it had been Bernard Spillsbury calling in a favour with his mate in HR in retaliation for the firing of his analyst. It was becoming increasingly clear to Luke that Bernard was into some shady dealings and was prepared to go to great lengths to get his way and punish those who stood in his way. oOo Note: Don’t forget the 1000 word component of this assignment that describes how your ethical standards and ability to solve ethical dilemmas has changed over the semester. There is no prescribed format for this task, simply discuss what you have learned, what capabilities you now have that you did not have before, how this might help you in the future, plus any other points you would like to mention.
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