Information Systems
College of Business Administration
University of Missouri - St. Louis

Cheetah and the Snail

Once upon a time, there was a cheetah named Che and a snail named Sna who lived in a magical land called Acirfa. The Che was the fastest member of the great kingdom of Acirfa, while the Sna was the slowest member of Acirfa. One day, the Kingdom of Acirfa announced that it would be holding a race called "The Althletic Competition of Acrifa" or "The ACA," to see who was the fastest member in the Kingdom of Acirfa. The cheetah, of course would be in the race to defend his title as the fastest citizen of Acirfa. Everyone in the kingdom feared being humiliated by the speed of Che, so no one signed up to race Che. However, there was one exception, Sna. Sna has always been one who didn't care about the odds against her and signed up for the race in hopes of winning it.

Che thought there was no need to prepare for this race since Che has been in so many races and won them all. For this race, Che didn't even go to any of the pre-race meetings to gather information on the race and the race requirements. Che just sat around licking his fur, playing with balls of yarn and occasionally chasing down random lasers that came by his house ever so often.

As for Sna, she went to every meeting, interviewed everyone that has ever been on any part of the course. Sna even made a map of the course. The course started on a flat 1 mile track called A&D plains, then moved to a gradual sloping 5 mile hill called Coder's Hill. It then went to a steeper hill called Tester's Mound that consisted of 10 miles of the course. The last leg of the race consisted of a 50,000 mile high mountain range called Mt. Production with a 400,000 mile tunnel with the same name that ran underneath the mountain range. Finally, the finish line was on the other side of the mountain. A day before the race, during a requirements meeting with the race organizers, the organizers announced that at the end of the 400,000 mile long Production tunnel, was a collapsed section of the tunnel and no way to get through the collapse section of the tunnel. Therefore, race organizers said they would fly contestants over the mountain range once they got to the tunnel entrance. Race organizers don't like repeating themselves, so none of this information was repeated on race day. The starting gun fires and the racers begin. After 15 minutes into the race, Che is already at the entrance to the production tunnel and runs right past the helicopters waiting to fly contestants over the mountain range. Che continues into the tunnel unaware of the collapse section waiting for him at the end. At .03 mph, Sna arrives at the tunnel entrance 22 days later and climbs on the helicopter for the 2 day ride to the landing zone next to the tunnel's exit. Sna crawls the remaining mile to the finish line in 33 hours. Sna finishes the race with a finish time of 25 days and 9 hours. Meanwhile, the cheetah gets to the end of the tunnel 222 days later, finding the problem of the collapsed section of the tunnel. Che had to go all the way back to the tunnel entrance. Still not attempting to communicate with the race organizers, Che neglected the helicopters and preceded to climb the mountain. In the end, Che's finish time was 500 days, 474 days after the snail finished and 497 days after he should have finished, had he attended the requirements meetings and communicated with race organizers.

Moral: The moral of the story is finding issues early on during a development life cycle is less costly than finding the issue later on in the development life cycle. Close communication with the race organizers (Customer) helped the snail identify the change in the environment early on in the race (Software development life cycle), which was during the requirements meeting (requirement phase of the software development life cycle) and only costing her the time used to attend the meeting and gather information. The cheetah found the problem late into the race (during the production stage) and it cost the cheetah hundreds of days of having to back track and rework his way to finish line versus the few hours that snail spent in the requirements phase. Lack of communication with the race organizers (customers) cost him time on completing the race (SDLC) because he was not able to identify the change in the environment early enough to quickly adjust to it.

These stories are adapted examples written in my class, IS 6840 (formerly MSIS 488).
© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.

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