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Tales From the Pit or Malicious Compliance at Its Best

What You Don’t Know Apparently Hurts Me?

Hi Jer, I’ve been a PM/VA with my company for a bit over seven years.  We’re a relatively small team, and as a result, everything goes smoothly.  Within our process, IT support would be brought in at the tail end of all implementations, so they can be familiar with the application; enough so that they could support the application when it was live.

Well, we encountered a few problems with IT suddenly coming up with requirements at the zero hour, that could have been implemented, had they said something earlier.  As a result, upper management came down very hard on IT, and in management’s defense, IT was really lazy, and kind of deserved it.

After that, IT needed to be involved in every meeting, but honestly, they attended about a third of the meetings, if that.  I scheduled a series of meetings with some key stakeholders, and the vendor’s implementation team to discuss a template that is used for specific reports.  We just wanted to determine if we could continue to use the same format to this report.  No… big… deal, right?

IT lost their minds!  How were they supposed to know about this template as a requirement if they weren’t included in the conversation?  From then on out, I was required to loop IT in on every meeting, provide daily updates, and any on the fly updates that might occur throughout the day.

Calling r/maliciouscompliance… r/maliciouscompliance, you are needed in the upstairs PMO office.

I started scheduling short 10 minute check-ins, meetings with senior stakeholders, sync-ups between myself and the vendor PMs.  In each case, I made sure that the meeting didn’t start until a rep from IT was present, even if the entirety of the meeting was “how are we all feeling about the project?  Good?  Good.  Enjoy the rest of the day.” 

I began sending out email updates to the entire IT team hourly with some of the stupidest updates.  Caroline is still reviewing the daily report functionality.  Dave said he can start reviewing the strategic mapping functionality later this afternoon.  Dave has started reviewing the strategic mapping functionality.

If you’re going to make my life miserable because you wanted to be involved in something that was (honestly) of no consequence (we’re using the same template as we were before.  The meetings were literally, can you do this, or should we explore other options?), then I’m going to also make your life a living hell.  It’s been about two months of this.  Even though they’ve asked me to stop, I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

You, madam, are my fucking hero.  Seriously.  Good for you.  I advised on a project that was moving a company over to SharePoint.  The loss prevention team had a super-secret process in place that they used for auditing.  It was kept secret so that no one could find ways to circumvent their investigations.  Also, because their investigations were related to legal affairs, the documents they created couldn’t be made public.  The IT team was insisting that they have full access to these folders, and that they provide detailed documentation on how their processes looked… you know… so they could properly support them.  This seems to be an ongoing trend, where IT teams need to have their dicks in every aspect of the business.  If you are one of these IT professionals, seriously, from the bottom of my heart, stop it.  Focus on the IT shit, and let the business processes be handled by the businesspeople.

Well, If You Wanted to Make Serak Cry, Mission Accomplished

Shit, son, do I have a story for you.

We get this new CIO.  Real bright eyed, optimistic type.  Always has this fucking smile on his face.

During his first month, dude had to be quietly sobbing in his office, ‘cus shit was fucked, and everyone knew it.

We were spending something like $2 million a year on Salesforce, had data stored in AWS, Azure, and on prem, and were paying to license a defunct app! (We got clarification on this.  The app in question pivoted to something that couldn’t be used in the company, but they never cancelled their agreement.  The licenses they were paying for defaulted to the new app, not the one that was defunct). 

As I am the senior business analyst, he tells me to document the shit out of everything.  What is actually being used in Salesforce, what data we have where, and why we have it spread out.

Shit, son, these business types are dumb as fucking shit.

I’ve done business requirements gathering before.  It was a struggle, but people were quick to tell me what it is that they would want, even if shit didn’t make a damn bit of sense.  Ask them what they are using right now?  Shit, I could have asked them in Mbara and I would have gotten the same fucking response.

“Oh, you know, we use Salesforce.”

What for?

“Oh, you know, we use it for like, client stuff.”

What kind of client stuff?

“Oh, you know, like, what we do with them.”

What do you do with them?

“Oh, you know, we like interact with them and stuff.”

How do you interact? 

“Oh, you know, we interact with them through Salesforce…”

The fucking database engineers were even worse.

Why do we have shit spread across three goddamn locations?

“Oh, you know… legacy apps.”

What legacy apps?

“Oh, you know… I don’t know, it’s just how it was when I hired in.”

Does it need to stay that way?  Can we move everything to Azure or AWS?

“What do you mean?  Think of the legacy apps!”

Fuck all of them.  The CIO took me out for a drink after work when I told him how much of a struggle it’s been.  We shared horror stories about being an IT business analyst.

Hahahahahahahahahahahhahahahah gasp hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

The submitter sent us a video of one of the responses he got to his spreadsheet.  He listed out everything that they get as part of their SF license.  One column was “do you use this” with a drop down of yes, no, I’m not sure.  Next to that was a column with “how often do you use this” with the options “N/A, frequently, at least once a week, a few times a month, rarely.  The respondent added a new column, and in each cell, he wrote “we get this through Salesforce.”

I Don’t Even Own A Gun, Let Alone Many Guns That Would Necessitate an Entire Rack

I work for a decently large firm.  We had been experiencing a lot of growth, and as a result a lot of changes were being made.  Upgrades were being made, new software introduced, a shift to cloud computing, and so on.  One of the projects I was helming was introducing some automated payment thing for paychecks, loan payments… a lot of things.  It integrated with our accounting software, linked to our bank, and even included some service that connected to the federal treasury or something, I don’t know.  I don’t understand anything about finance so a lot of what was being discussed was very much outside of my wheelhouse.

The entire project dragged on.  Getting the necessary info to everyone involved was a real pain.  Requirements were very slow coming, so much of the work ended up being panic induced ad hoc work.

After six long, grueling months of back and forth, they finally delivered a finished service.

We brought the accounting department together, along with the various directors to demonstrate how it would work, how it would streamline our processes, and what we needed them to do in order to fully test this.  After the presentation, the VP of finance said “what the hell is this?”

Dead… silence…

“Well?  What the hell is this?!”

Uh, it’s the new automated payment processing service.  We partnered with…

“Why does it look different?!”

I was confused.  There weren’t any changes to the UI.  Everything that happens does so behind the scenes.

After significant back and forth, and me explaining that it’s a backend service that integrates with our accounting software he said the words no PM would ever want to hear; “we don’t use that program, we use QuickBooks Online.  Who the hell signed off on this work?”

We provided credentials.  APIs.  Signed contracts with banks.  Signed contracts with the vendors.  Created accounts for the dev team within the software that we don’t use.  CREATED ACCOUNTS IN THIS STUPID SOFTWARE WE DON’T USE!

There were meetings.  No one ever said anything.  No one questioned why we kept mentioning this other random software.  Outside of one person in IT, no one had even heard of it.

Fucking how?!

This is why we document the hell out of everything, with read receipts.  At some point someone signed off on this, and my guess is it’s probably someone very important, who wasn’t paying attention.  Related story, I once had a project sponsor lose her shit because we made a change to certain functionality because she didn’t ok the changes.  Asked who would be dumb enough to agree to these changes.  Found the email chain, and the updated SOW, and lo and behold, it was the project sponsor who requested it, and signed off on the work.  Shocked Pikachu face.

Software So Nice, We Bought It Twice

I’m not a project manager in title, but I basically play one in my office.  I work for a construction company as the office administrator.  When it comes to implementing anything within the office, the duty falls on me, since no one else cares to do it.

A frequent complaint I hear around the office, is one of resource management.  Site supervisors or sales managers need someone to do something, go somewhere, or follow up with someone, they send text messages.  This can get extremely convoluted when there is a list of tasks that they need their team to do when they arrive on site. 

The owner partnered with a company that offers a resource management platform.  I was asked to act as the PM, so that this company could reach out to me if they needed anything from us.  The PM at the resource software company was an absolute delight to work with.  The entire implementation was quick and painless.  They brought a small team on-site to provide training, and even worked one on one with some of the guys so that they would get used to using the app on their company phones.

The PM schedules a postmortem with me to discuss how we felt everything went.  In the meeting she asks why we set this up.  So, I explained why, and absolutely gushed about how amazing the product is, and how it’s going to save us all a lot of time and energy.

“No” she said, “why this new instance?  The owner’s answer never sat right with me.  If you already had an instance set up, why would you set up a nearly identical instance?”

It turns out that about six years prior the company purchased this software, had it configured for us, and then promptly forgot about it. 

It makes all the office chatter of “why haven’t we had this all along” hilarious and sad.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in project management (others have also voiced this frustration), is that some business owners, board members, c-suite, etc. are idiots.  They believe that any issue can be solved by throwing money at the problem.  In this case, the problem wasn’t that it was difficult to communicate tasks to the employees, it was they weren’t using the system they paid for.  Buying a new (or in this case, the same) software isn’t going to fix your shitty utilization of services currently available. 

There is something about getting that executive title that turns regular people into dumb fucks.


Do you have a project or office horror story?  Feel free to contact us and let us know, you might be featured in a future Astutely Obtuse article!


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