It is my belief that everyone in IT eventually faces the Yugo Mechanic's Dilemma.
After Goldilocks ran away from the Three Bears' cottage, she decided she needed some wheels. She knew that transportation would be useful, but she didn't know all that much, mechanically, about cars. Ideally, Goldilocks would like a car that was a good fit. A BMW was nice, but too expensive, and she worried she would not use it's capabilities in a way that would make it worth the cash. A bike would be OK, but hard to pedal uphill. Unfortunately, she settled on a Yugo as "just right."
Narrator aside: You guessed, no doubt, that I'm talking about software. Businesses often buy software instead of building it, and want that Goldilocks fit: not too giant, enterprisy and expensive, and not junk either, but a decent system that just runs and does its job. Good enough.
As all Yugo owners came to learn, back when there were running Yugos -- and if you love Yugo's, please substitute Renault Alliance or similar vehicle for Yugo in this story -- they require a mechanic to keep them running. Joe was just such a mechanic. Joe was a talented guy, and could fix a lot of different cars. In fact he was talented enough that he could keep Goldi's Yugo on the road for weeks or months at a time. But it was exasperating work. Eventually, though he liked his client very much, he came to dread the next Yugo repair, when he would see Goldilocks on the horizon, approaching his garage in the towtruck, her beloved little car in tow. What does Joe do in such a scenario?
- It's his professional duty to keep fixing the Yugo without complaint. If Goldi loves the Yugo, then so must Joe. Smile and wave, Joe. Smile and wave.
- He should change his name and set up a shop in a new town, so that when a Yugo arrives he can plead ignorance, and pretend he knows nothing about them.
- He should advise Goldi that a new set of wheels might be in order, in spite of her probable rage and disappointment.
- Tell Goldi he needs a week, and splice a Toyota Tercel engine and drivetrain into the Yugo body, making sure she can't tell the difference.