With Zach's technical knowledge and an excellent track record of handling large projects within the corporation, it was of little surprise when he received the task of estimating the amount of effort to create, in-house, the company's new web portal.

You see, in Zach's workplace, whenever an outside vendor was being considered to develop any in-house app, a "second opinion" would be obtained to see what it would cost to perform the same task using the company's existing available resources. The reasoning was simple - whichever side was the cheapest go the task.

Seizing the opportunity to carve his name in a big project, Zach poured himself into creating a truly admirable estimate for project over the course of several late work days and a few weekends.  The estimate addressed several "what-if" scenarios, contingency plans, and contained input from the server team, database group, and the web design team to get the best representation of how much effort the web portal would truly take to complete.

Zach was excited.  As he prepared to deliver the finalized estimate, Zach carried a smug expression while imagining how his numbers were going to blow out of the water anything that the 3rd party developers could dish out.  However, what Zach didn't know though was that the estimate would be for nothing. Before the printer had collated the last copy, management had already decided to go with the outside firm. 

When discovered this, Zach approached the management team and made his case.  He argued that the estimate was the best thing for the company - they would ultimately support the app and with regards to total cost, going in-house was really the very best way to go.  Management fired back that despite the admittedly outrageous $250 per hour rate, the vendor had an impressive portfolio and claimed to be able to deliver the solution in literally a fraction of the time Zach had estimated.  Zach countered that he'd meet again with the various groups in hopes of being able to refactor the estimate - perhaps there's something that can be trimmed?  The response back to Zach from management was an emphatic "No".  Zach was thanked for his time but his estimate would not be needed.

No word on anything until a time later when his director forwarded an email his way requesting assistance in helping the vendor:

Hey Jeff,

I’m working on the functional requirements for the invoice presentment 
on 4/6 and here is what I’m thinking.  The user will navigate to the 
Billing tab and as the page loads, “something” will “do something” to 
determine if the invoice is available for viewing.  If it is available 
for viewing, then “something” will be available for the user to click 
on to display the invoice.

Would you, at a high level, know what those somethings are?

Let me know if you have any questions.

Zach replied that he'd be glad to assist the vendor, but before he could take any action, he'd have to submit an estimate first.

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