Friday, 5 February 2010

If we made cars....

I work in the department responsible for keeping our Business Intelligence (oxymoron there if ever there was one) computer systems running. From time to time, our programmers give us new versions of software to install or brand new software to set up when a new BI client comes along.  This does not always go smoothly...

You’ve probably all seen the internet joke about what it would be like if Microsoft made cars…

Well here’s my take on it for our department.

I present for your amusement a series of fictionalised but not untypical exchanges between me (SUPPORT) and our programmers (DEV), along with a comparable set between a motorist and a car maker, so you can see what we have to put up with.

SUPPORT: We can’t install the new version of the Klooluss X-5000 Decision Support System because there are no table definitions in the database for it.
DEV: Don’t worry, they’re being developed now and we will deliver them on Monday.

MOTORIST: My car has been delivered with no wheels and won’t run.
CARMAKER: Don’t worry, we’re manufacturing the wheels now and we’ll deliver them on Monday.


SUPPORT: OK, we’ve got the table definitions, but when we run the code, the program is expecting a different set of column names from those defined in the database.
DEV: Log a case in QC and we’ll look into it.

MOTORIST: OK, I’ve got the wheels now, but they're square. I was kind of expecting round ones.
CARMAKER: Please contact your dealer, have him call us and we’ll get back to you.

Later that day...

DEV: We've looked into this and it’s your fault.  We think you’re running the code against the wrong database.
SUPPORT: We’re using the one that we have been assured is the correct one.

CARMAKER: We've looked into this and it’s your fault.  We think you’re trying to fit the wheels in the wrong place.
MOTORIST: I’m fitting a wheel to each of the four corners of the car - where else would I fit them?.

DEV: Would you like a web conference with one of our team to talk you through where you’re going wrong?
SUPPORT: No need for a web conference. The definitions are wrong (see the screenshot I'm emailing).

CARMAKER: Would you like to set up a webcam and film yourself attempting to fit the wheels and one of our mechanics will talk you through where you’re going wrong.
MOTORIST: No need for a web cam. The wheels are definitely wrong (see the photo I'm emailing)

Much later that day...

DEV: Oh, it turns out that we’re developing off an out-of-date schema, we’ll need to impact this and get a new version of the code written..
SUPPORT: Hmmm, it’s due to go live tomorrow.

CARMAKER: Oh, turns out wheels are round now! Who knew? Square ones were phased out some time ago, apparently, hehe. We’ll need to go back to the drawing board on this one.
MOTORIST: Hmmm. I need to use the car tomorrow.

DEV: Sorry, we’re maxed out and have no resource to complete the work by then.
SUPPORT: Well, I’m sure the client will understand, and won’t be at all interested in demanding their money back..

CARMAKER: Sorry, there’s no way we can retool for round wheels by Tuesday.
MOTORIST: Fine, I’m sure my great aunt Aggie will understand why she can’t go to her life-saving kidney dialysis session.

Trying to get round the problem...

SUPPORT: Look, we can see the problem and can easily fix it ….
DEV: Sorry, that’s not your job. We can’t have people changing the code or we can’t guarantee our releases contain the most correct version of the code.

MOTORIST: I can see the problem and I have a spare set of wheels here that will fit…
CARMAKER: Sorry, that’s not your job. We can’t have people using wheels we have not manufactured or we couldn’t guarantee the car will work.

SUPPORT: But it doesn’t work now.
DEV: Sorry, there’s a process…..

MOTORIST: But my car doesn’t work now.
CARMAKER: Sorry, there’s a process….

There’s always a frickin’ process!

I love my job - it's the people.....!!


  1. Hilarious! Our company has a helpline to call (or email) to open a "ticket" for a problem. I was a good girl for a long time & used the helpline. But then I noticed that the same person always got assigned to my problem - so now I just call him & it cuts down on the wait time.

  2. Holy yikes. That sounds maddening!

  3. This post was the result of a loooong and frustrating week at the fun factory. Thanks for visiting and commenting peeps. I daresay you all have your own versions of this scenario.

  4. lol... even a thicko like me understood that jargon :-D

  5. @Watercats - You're no thicko! Glad you were able to comprehend though. Just had another such maddening day.


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