How To Derail An IT Project (or, RJ Whines About Earning a Living)

May 25th, 2009

Like Spock, but evil as a motherfucker.This is the post in which I assume you’re an aspiring evil overlord, but that the reaches of your evil ambition only get to IT consulting projects. Of the millions of people on the internet, there’s got to be at least one such person out there, right? That’s statistics, baby.

Here’s your first lesson: the cost of offshore resources’ time is zero. The same goes for the onshore team to review and correct them, and for the offshore resources to redo their work, and for the onshore team to do everything that can’t be done overseas. Your employees don’t really mind getting to the office at 07:00 for cross-Pacific meetings, nor do they mind getting woken up at 02:00 to answer questions. They can’t, right? After all, you as their employer are probably providing 100% of their livelihood. But all that is bush-league stuff, and you like to swing for the fences. So, you can’t settle for just one overseas team. Gotta have two. And if you don’t explicitly tell them to communicate with one another, they won’t, just like they won’t do anything else requiring a modicum of initiative or judgment. Remember: the cost of the two offshore teams duplicating work, as well as the onshore team unfucking the code? All still zero. If you’re lucky, people won’t even find all the duplicated work for weeks, because there’s no documentation! You didn’t explicitly ask them to write easily-read code or document it, right?

Let’s keep this ball rolling, since we’re already messing with our employees’ schedules and workload. Why don’t we…. Got it! Let’s dictate that the consultants go four-to-a-car. Airports play such soothing music, and some of the televisions even play CNN so as to keep them well-informed. In other words, it will help them to be better, calmer, well-informed people to wait around for other coworkers to show. Four-to-a-car means that most of your employees have to arrive along with the whim of the earliest employees and leave with the latest-working. More hours mean better product, always. Even if you don’t give somebody enough work to fill the typical eight hours, you keep him there twelve, and I guarantee you she’ll find something to work on.

WAIT. FUCK ME IN THE ASS, I’M A GENIUS. Not only do you keep them there twelve hours, you ACTIVELY STOP THEM from doing the work you originally asked for! It’s perfect! Just tell them that small improvements are too small to worry about, and anything larger than that is too big to fix. After all, the offshore team wrote something that sorta-maybe-mostly worked, and who needs software better than sorta-maybe-mostly working. But, that aside, it’s critically important that this new project (which has to be good) remain very very similar to the preceding project (which was atrocious). At this point, it’s all gravy, but I’d highly suggest that the tools you give to your employees not work as advertised, and come with no support in documentation or knowledgeable workers to help correct any problems that arise. What you’re really going for here is a chain of fuckupery in which a small problem can’t be fixed because of a medium problem, which can’t be fixed because of a larger problem, which can’t be fixed because your employees’ internet access keeps shorting out every few minutes.

After having provided this general treatise, I’m sure you and your evil henchmen have gotten quite a taste of what the corporate sub-human psyche is like. At the end of this lesson, students will be expected to:

  • Wreck the ideals and goals of a project
  • Wreck the work needed to achieve those goals
  • Wreck the tools used to do the work in question
  • Wreck the work AND social environments in which the tools are used
  • Wreck an employee’s conception of fair work, and precisely why he’s suffering in this way just to create profit for executives he’ll never meet.

No small task, I’m sure you’ll agree, but once you start exercising these evil muscles, you’ll see the compunction for your fellow human melt away like magic!

(Note: If the project described above were not TOTALLY HYPOTHETICAL, I would probably have rolled off it recently, so I feel quite confident that I shouldn’t whine about work much for some time.)

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A Small Start.

November 14th, 2008

As a humble beginning to this site, I’d like to tell a small story about small business.

I was working on a contracting opportunity on which I had to work with a micro-ISV that produced what they claimed to be automated integration testing for the entirely obscure embedded system type that we used. The core technology of the product was solid, and in fact, an advanced user could (with too much work in my humble opinion) script the tool to do cool things in cool ways. That didn’ matter because the polish and UI were terrible, and this soured everyone on the product, most especially the managers that made purchasing decisions.

In a characteristic fit of rage, I sent the developers an email. Threats were made, their metaphorical mothers were fucked, and I collapsed spent onto my keyboard. This made it all the more suprising when I got a polite and helpful response offering to patch our areas of concern within two weeks. Turns out that the group of licenss that our company had bought accounted for over half of their revenue for the quarter, and that they were practically subcontracted to us.

If you think you understand your business environment, check all the problematic areas again. There’s a chance that your areas of problems are actually areas of not-knowing. We let a lot of goodwill and the desires of others to help us sit idly by while we banged our heads against what we thought was an unsolvable problem, and what they thought was running smoothly.

The World’s Worst! Also today, I uncover what I believe to be, without a doubt, the world’s worst poem. I give you The Nazi’s [sic] by Fritters.

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