This insurance company is updating its claims-processing software, and it's the biggest kind of deal, says a pilot fish in the mix.

"The entire 30-person IT department was working on aspects of the upgrade, which would affect the entire company," fish says. "But the primary responsibility for the upgrade fell upon the lead programmer.

"No one knew as much about the system as she did, and cross-training was at a minimum. Each programmer worked on his own subsystems and few had worked on the core of the program.

"The deadline was such a firm date that management wouldn't even let the lead programmer schedule more than three days for her honeymoon, because they couldn't afford to lose that much time."

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