Re: Well that's the problem, isn't it
Re: " this code... it does do what it is supposed to, right? The results make sense? Always?"
Unbelievably, yes. I can't tell tales out of school, so can't say much, but it used a clever technique to determine, at a distance, systems that were about to fail before they failed. That in turn allowed scheduling repairs prior to failure to ensure SLA uptime. The errors in the code were errors in software development, not in logical design. The program did what it was supposed to do. It would occasionally die and have to be restarted because my code was not able to entirely fix errors subsequent to invalid memory use.
Re: "Has this been adequately tested?"
Yes. In fact, that is the only reason it worked. Through a huge series of testing and repair iterations the software's behavior was brought into compliance with its design requirements. They could argue with me, but they could not argue with designers and users in UAT.
Re: "You don't work for RBS do you?"
No, but I think you get the idea. The reason stuff like this flies is because someone like me subcontracts to another sub-contractor that in turn contracts to the general contractor that has the customer relationship.
Deals are made between client and general contractor, sometimes a horse-trading deal for which the nominal contract deliverables are irrelevant. They are scratching one another's backs somewhat off the books and the nominal contract is one way to move things back and forth. The General contractor gets a piece of billed hours as does the sub-contractor. The final person doing the work (me) is encouraged to work long hours, and carefully bill every minute because only billed minutes result in money regardless of progress on tasks. These are usually in some type of regulated industry that is able to pass on any and all costs to the consumer. Everybody prospers except for the consumer.
In the particular instance above, this pro-active maintenance system saved a *ton* of money so what was being paid was out of value actually created by the work. Its quality was not much of a factor as long as it got the job done. Even though it was aesthetically offensive (to people like me who care), It got the job done.
Come to think of it, the above is not atypical across all of software development. No wonder it is all such a horrendous mess.