26 July, 2005

Brother of Death Spiral

Another project is just gearing up, which is tangentially related to Project Death Spiral. As an identified stakeholder (see also "drive-by victim"), I was required in a meeting.

The Evil Danny Devito clone also turns up, having identified himself as a stakeholder. He seems to be a stakeholder in every project going at the moment, possibly because project managers have developed a defensive strategy of pointing him at other projects to spread his attention as thinly as possible.

This time around he spends less time trying to emphasise that everyone else is simply duplicating the work of his project (reality has started to intrude, perhaps), and has done some research on the software under discussion. Unfortunately for him, that's all he's done, without actually trying to understand what the software is going to be used for. He's aware that it's a database of some kind, but doesn't know how it's being and will be used. So he concentrates on what he's ovbiously cribbed from the company's website and tries to sound like an authority.

Evil Devito: "I think we need to be able to run this report from it. I read about it, and it sounds like what we need."

Database developer: "Uh, sure. That's just one of the default reports. We can do that without any dramas."

Evil Devito: "Because it's perfect for what we need. It gives us that big picture overview, so we need to be able to access this."

DB developer: "Okay..."

Meeting chair: "We already have the big picture, Evil Devito. I don't think we need to dwell on being able to run a report that's part of what we're getting out of the box."

Evil Devito: "But once we get it, we can show people! And they'll be impressed! By the way, we have far too many categories in our database." He rattles off some statistics. "That's way too many. We need to delete some - look at this list!"

DB administrator: "Uh, that report you've pulled includes all the subcategories and other fields. You could delete all of them, but then you're database would be an unusable mess."

Sensing he's losing his audience, Evil Devito introduces his other bugbear for the meeting: the "squillions of spreadsheets" that are plaguing the organisation.

Evil Devito: "Squillions, I tell you! We need to get rid of them all by incorporating them all into this database!"

My minion: "Why?"

Evil Devito: "Squillions! All that data, stored in spreadsheets!"

Minion: "What kind of spreadsheets?"

Evil Devito: "What part of 'squillions' aren't you following? They're a plague and we must be rid of them!"

Minion: "Most of them are probably reports people are using to analyse what's in the database. Like we do. If you take away the spreadsheets, people aren't going to be able to do their jobs properly."

Evil Devito: "Spreadsheets must die! The database is the only solution!"

Minion: "Even if we can't manipulate the data that comes out of it?"

Evil Devito twitches, then turns to the person beside him. "Squillions of spreadsheets. Everywhere, I tell you!"


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I mean, its hilariously funny and everything but does this actually exist?

Only i'm beginning to dread the start of ever working in an office-like environment and tending towards the idea of spending the rest of my life in a nice, safe, sanitarium somewhere...

Argh said...

There are two ways of looking at this:

- this does exist, it is real, and your dread is entirely justified; or,

- this does exist, it is real, but it all seems to happen to me for the sins of what I can only assume was a most enjoyable past life.