Trailblazer Series – The Client is Coming!

“The Client is coming”, if you are from IT there is every possibility you have/will go through this phase at least once in your life. For me this was a time when I was still a junior in the company, like four to five years of experience. The First thing you get is an email from the senior members in the organization which will mostly have the subject “Client Visit” 😊. So, why does a client visit us in the first case? In the world of technology, the work is divided in an onsite offshore model. This implies some work could be done from the client’s office while some away from a remote location. Coming back to the question, a client can visit for multiple reasons,

  1. Build/strengthen the relationship
  2. To check the offshore facility
  3. To share their vision/mission

But why am I boring you with all of this? Sorry about that, I think I just got carried away in the moment 😊. Let us come back to the fun part. I was part of a team of 100 odd members and as part of the expected visit there were specific groups formed. One group was asked to look at arrangements like Food Menu, any outings to be planned etc., another was to decide the day to day activities viz. “When will the customer meet Team A, B, C” and so on. There was also a group which was designated to identify the fun activities known as Fundooz. One of the activities which the Fundooz team decided was to have a small game. There would be three teams, and each team would be asked questions in a round robin fashion. The winner obviously would get a price. The best part was the Fundooz team also decided to have some funny and interesting buzzers like a rubber duck which would make noise.

Now, where do I come in the picture? The Fundooz team did not want to just do a Q&A, they wanted to create a competitive environment using car racing. My job was to develop a car racing game in excel 😊. Well, this was fun, I was called “Macro Man” because I was good with Excel Macros. Unfortunately, Hrithik Roshan had already taken up that name when he became the brand ambassador for Men’s Boxers, evidently with the same name. Oh, by the way, please forget I told you this!! Coming back, an important aspect while developing any software is to understand the requirements. Below are some of the initial requirements I got

  1. We need to show a racetrack, with three cars.
  2. Of the three teams Each Team chooses one car
  3. Before a question is asked each team will bid for points equal to 2, 4 or 6
  4. If one team answer the question correctly, they will advance by the bid points
  5. If the answer is incorrect the team will move back by the bid points.

Fun isn’t it, that’s why the group called them Fundooz, they even had a logo and T-Shirts for the Fundooz members 😊. I had not developed a game in Excel, but it was something I had to do quickly. The end game looked something like the below image.

The Final Game

It looks easy but let me tell you a secret. I faced a lot issues primarily to understand how to move the car forward or backward. Well, I improvised a little, each car could move a total of 30 steps around the track. I just put one image for each step and I would hide/unhide the image programmatically.  If all images were unhidden, below is how the track would look like.


But this is what the end user could see.


Now, one of the important, unwanted but mostly accepted aspects of Software development is last minute change in requirements. We are at the end of the complete development process but, now the team wanted sound effects when the car moved to the forward or backward, so it sounds also real. A fair ask, but in technical terms this is what we call “Scope Creep”. Well, I had no choice, it was again an aspect which I never tried in excel macros, so it was still a lot of fun to develop. Finally, after all testing and modifications, it was D-day for the Game show. Everything now depended on execution of the Game Show which was done well.

This blog is just one small aspect of my experience, as part of the Trailblazer series I plan to share many more interesting projects which I came across in my career. Watch out for my next blog in the Trailblazer series.