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March 21, 2001: The blade swings

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There is an undercurrent of unease at work these days. We're in a period of assessment, examining what's been developed so far and trying to figure out how much further we have to go. But while we're doing this, development has been frozen, and while all the technical team members have been pulled instead into documentation, assessment discussions, and design sessions, there still isn't enough work to keep us all comfortably busy.

We've known there might be cutbacks - the rumors have been circulating ever since they first started planning this particular activity of the project. So it's not that we didn't know they were coming. Still, it would have been nice to have been given more warning than simply to leave work one evening, and come back to empty desks where developers once sat. There was no message circulated to prepare us. Just - one day they were there, and the next they were gone. The second wave - scheduled at the end of this week - is at least expected now, but still, there seems to be gaps in their reasons for who should go and who should stay through this process.

There are rumors of yet more cutbacks. We eye each new email from our own company managers as well as communications handed down from the program managers of this project with trepidation, never knowing if this will be the next missive full of names to disappear overnight. No one seems to know what we'll be doing come April - this includes the technical consultants as well as the business people themselves. We're told that those who've been removed will come back when development starts again, but we contractors and consultants know the business too well to be willing to believe that promise so easily. Companies do not like to have their employees sitting idle on the bench while a customer twiddles its thumbs. It's highly likely that some of those people will be placed on other projects and will not return in May, taking with them all the knowledge they've accumulated and were never given the chance to pass on before they left.

So we busy ourselves with the tedium of documentation long overdue, and we watch, and we wait. There is nothing else we can do.

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