Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May 26, 2008


Years ago we were hired by a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan to look over a new Claims Processing system they were building. The focal point of their problems centered on adjudicating claims whereby they wanted to devise an automated way to analyze a claim and determine the amount of money to be paid out. They had spent a lot of time and money analyzing adjudication and were frustrated they couldn't come up with a standard algorithm for computing all claims. We studied the problem and found that 90% of their claims were easy to analyze and calculate adjudication. For example, simple doctor visits, a broken bone, normal childbirths, etc. were easy to analyze and compute. However, unusual medical claims such as complications at childbirth, and massive car accidents, involved many more variables and, consequently, were difficult to compute based on standard algorithms. After studying the problem carefully, we reached the conclusion that trying to accurately calculate 100% of all claims was an impossibility. It was simply not practical to try to achieve this lofty goal and, as such, was a waste of time pursuing it. Instead, it was our advice they simply automate the 90% claims they could easily perform and segregate the remaining 10% for handling by a human adjustor. To their surprise, this worked remarkably well and saved them considerable money.

Too often in systems and software development we try to do the impossible and often run into a stumbling block when trying to achieve our goal. Do we continue to waste time and money on a problem that cannot be conquered or do we stop, lick our wounds, and move around it? The problem is knowing when to stop. As "Dirty Harry" once said, "A man has got to know his limitations."

Let me give you another example. Years ago, we devised our own set of in-house programming standards. These standards were used in Phase 4-II of "PRIDE"-ISEM and allowed us to engineer and review a program before coding. We then took it another step by creating software that would read the program's specifications and generate the initial source code. We called it a "Program Shell Generator" for it generated the lion's share of the code (be it COBOL, C, or any other language). It could generate 100% of the code for simple programs, but we recognized from the outset it couldn't do everything. Instead, it would generate approximately 80% of the code which the programmer would then have to complete. Some would say such a generator would be a colossal waste of time. Far from it, we found it to be a tremendous time saver. Instead of wasting time setting up the initial code, the programmer was free to concentrate on the 20% of the code requiring their attention. Other program generators are faced with the same reality; they can generate a lot of code, but probably not 100% for any major application of any substance.

It is important that Project Managers and Senior Analysts be wary of such potential roadblocks and not try to conquer the impossible. Instead, look for practical solutions. In other words, don't keep trying to drive into a wall, put on your turn signal and go around it.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

Keep the faith!

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is...

"Technology alone will not solve our problems, only effective management will."


Friends, we have just published a new book entitled, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life.

Bonnie Wooding, the President of the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) said, "Many of our members are just starting their careers and I will be recommending that they read this book, especially Chapter 3, Professional Development - a primer for business skills and filled with basic common sense advice that is simple, easy to follow and extraordinarily practical; and Chapter 5, Do’s and Don’ts of the Workplace, an excellent resource for those questions you are too embarrassed to ask for fear of looking foolish."

The Miami Hurricane recently reviewed it (10/22/2007) and said,

"the abundance of information the book provides is a good start for anyone about to take the first step into the real world. Though the concept of adulthood may seem intimidating, it's comforting to know that someone has at least written a guidebook for it."

Reviewer Bill Petrey praised it by saying, "Every young person entering the workplace for the first time should be given a copy of this book."

The book includes chapters to describe how a young person should organize themselves, how to adapt to the corporate culture, develop their career, and improve themselves professionally and socially. Basically, its 208 pages of good sound advice to jump start the young person into the work force. Corporate Human Resource departments will also find this book useful for setting new hires on the right track in their career. It not only reinforces the many formal rules as contained in corporate policy manuals, but also includes the subtle unwritten rules we must all observe while working with others. The book lists for $25 and can be ordered online through MBA or your local book store. Complementing the book is a one day seminar of the same name which can be purchased separately for $4,000.00 (U.S.) plus instructor travel expenses. For more information on both the book and the seminar, visit our corporate web site at:
ISBN: 978-0-9786182-5-4


I recently had a friend confide in me that he had found Jesus. Frankly, I didn't know he was missing. Religion is always a touchy subject, but in the Christian world we still find people who have sudden epiphanies about their faith. I think these are the same people who slept through Sunday School years ago and are just now catching up.

Years ago I went back for my high school class' 20th reunion. I hadn't seen most of the people in quite some time. Those that were jerks in high school, were still jerks as grownups. The people who were "wallflowers" in high school actually turned out quite well. But what I found particularly interesting were the people who were heavy into alcohol and drugs or had promiscuous reputations in high school had all found Jesus. Some wore prominent crosses around their neck and it was kind of awkward trying to talk to them. When you asked them about what they were doing with their lives, they would inevitably tell you how Jesus had saved them. I never did find out anything else about them. I even had one guy quote me chapter and verse on the evils in the world today. I thanked him for his words but said I needed some more ice for my drink.

I guess the secret to finding Jesus is that you must have screwed up pretty bad somewhere along the line and, in desperation, you turn to the Bible where you have your revelation. What I find disconcerting though is that these people now feel they are authorities of the faith and unless you share their zealousness you are perceived as a heretic. I fail to see how those of us that didn't screw-up, attended church, and practiced our faith accordingly were somehow not on a par with those who just caught on.

I don't want to be too harsh on my friends who find Jesus though. After all, I would rather have them study the Bible than continue down a road of self-destruction. But guys please remember this, just because you've found the faith, doesn't mean the rest of us have been napping.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.


Folks, a couple of years ago I started to include my "Pet Peeve of the Week" in these "Management Visions" podcasts. They have become so popular that I now syndicate them through the Internet and they are available for republication in other media. To this end, I have created a separate web page for my writings which you can find at Look for the section, "The Bryce is Right!" Hope you enjoy them.

Also, if you happen to be in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, be sure to stop by and check out our new Palm Harbor Business OASIS, a new business venue offering local business people a place to meet, work, network, and relax. Why pay a lot for leasing office space when you can become a member of the OASIS for as little as $100/month? For more information, visit our web site at:


I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "Coffee":

An L.H. in Wilmington, NC wrote...

"Yup, I have to agree with you that the marketing behind coffee has changed a lot in the past 20 years. Perhaps not always for the better. For myself, I will always have a fondness for the tagline "Good to the last drop."

I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "Having it Your Way":

An E.V. in Romeo, Michigan wrote...

"As for customers ordering changes, I see that as the cost of doing business. He can charge for changes if he wants. As for people taking a booth for too long and ordering just coffee, there's a simple solution to that. He can ask them to leave."

An S.S. in Turkey wrote...

"The way I see it is that they are providing a certain service for a price. If the service is changed for some reason then so should the price. It is just standard business practice."

Again, thanks for your comments. For these and other comments, please visit my "Bryce is Right!" web site.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567.

Our corporate web page is at:

Management Visions is a presentation of M. Bryce & Associates, a division of M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. The program is produced on a weekly basis and updated on Sundays. It is available in versions for RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, and MP3 suitable for Podcasting. See our web site for details. You'll find our broadcast listed in several Podcast and Internet Search engines, as well as Apples' iTunes.

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Copyright © 2008 by M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. All rights reserved. "PRIDE" is the registered trademark of M&JB Investment Company.

This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."




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