Let's Spend Money ... On a Test


  • mod

    As I've mentioned before, I do software development for a moving company that does moving for individuals and large corporate clients. In the past few weeks, one of our large corporate clients - who I'll call Innotel - has approached us about revising their move process. Before I get into the new process, let's review the current process:

    1. Innotel sends us a spreadsheet containing very basic information on planned shipments. Basically telling us that a shipment is planned from location A to location B on in 3 months, via an ocean container, or something like that. Sometimes we're moving things between their facilities. Sometimes, we're picking up new equipment from a manufacturer and tacking it to one of their locations. The worst part of this step is that the spreadsheet is manually maintained on their side with no validation settings. Amazingly, there are rarely any errors when we import it into our software.
    2. Several weeks in advance, we begin calling the point of contact at the origin to get the details of the shipment. How many crates are going to be in the shipment? What are the dimensions? Weights? Handling instructions? Anything hazardous? As they give us the information, it is entered into our tracking system.
    • If we do not get the information we need far enough in advance of the ship date, we escalate to Innotel, and they get the information for us.
    1. We make the necessary arrangements and ship everything.
    2. We send automatic notifications to Innotel at certain stages of the shipping process.

    Not too bad, honestly. And it works. Now for the "new and improved" process that Innotel wants us to test. This involves a third party company I'll refer to as Innover.

    1. Same as before.
    2. The supplier enters the dimensions, weights, handling instructions, etc. into Innover's system. There are no checks to make sure the data is valid.
    3. If supplier has not entered information by DEADLINE1, Innover's system sends them a reminder email.
    4. If supplier has not entered information by DEADLINE2, Innover's system sends them a stern reminder email.
    5. If supplier has not entered information by DEADLINE3, resort to step 2 from the old process (i.e., we call the supplier).
      • As before, if we do not get the information we need far enough in advance of the ship date, we escalate to Innotel, and they get the information for us.
    6. Innover's system emails the information to us, and we manually enter it.
    • If it is determined that the information received is bad (e.g., dimensions of 0x0x0 for a crate), resort to step 2 from the old process (i.e., we call the supplier).
    1. We make arrangements for the shipment.
    2. The supplier goes to Innover's system to print labels for their crates.
    3. Innover's system sends a message to us asking for the tracking number.
    4. A new system, which we haven't developed yet, will process the request and respond with the tracking number.
    5. The supplier prints the labels and affixes them to the crates.
    6. We finally ship everything.
    7. Same as step 4 in the old process.

    I had a one hour conference call on this today, and it took everything I had not to tell them they are fucking morons. Looking over this "improvement":

    • There's a high likelihood that we will still need to keep calling the suppliers when they miss deadlines, at least with troublesome suppliers.
    • Innover's system is actually designed to encourage the entry of dummy data. "You mean the reminders stop coming when I enter in any data?" This will lead to us still needing to call.
    • I honestly have no problem with the communication channel as I outlined it in step 5. It's actually not bad. Except the use of that channel entirely depends on the success of the rest of the new process.
    • I should probably mention that they want us to use a communication protocol for step 5 which will require an upfront investment from us to get the channel open. Not something my boss is keen on doing for a test.

    In the end: I see benefits for only one party in this project: Innover. They get paid no matter what.



  • This must have really sucked to format for Discourse.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @abarker said:

    In the end: I see benefits for only one party in this project: Innover. They get paid no matter what.

    Mission accomplished.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    I thought the same thing when I read it.


  • mod

    @chubertdev said:

    This must have really sucked to format for Discourse.

    Yes. Yes it did.



  • I fixed the formatting for you @abarker, view raw.


    As I've mentioned before, I do software development for a moving company that does moving for individuals and large corporate clients. In the past few weeks, one of our large corporate clients - who I'll call Innotel - has approached us about revising their move process. Before I get into the new process, let's review the current process:

    1. Innotel sends us a spreadsheet containing very basic information on planned shipments. Basically telling us that a shipment is planned from location A to location B on in 3 months, via an ocean container, or something like that. Sometimes we're moving things between their facilities. Sometimes, we're picking up new equipment from a manufacturer and tacking it to one of their locations. The worst part of this step is that the spreadsheet is manually maintained on their side with no validation settings. Amazingly, there are rarely any errors when we import it into our software.
    2. Several weeks in advance, we begin calling the point of contact at the origin to get the details of the shipment. How many crates are going to be in the shipment? What are the dimensions? Weights? Handling instructions? Anything hazardous? As they give us the information, it is entered into our tracking system.
    • If we do not get the information we need far enough in advance of the ship date, we escalate to Innotel, and they get the information for us.
    1. We make the necessary arrangements and ship everything.
    2. We send automatic notifications to Innotel at certain stages of the shipping process.

    Not too bad, honestly. And it works. Now for the "new and improved" process that Innotel wants us to test. This involves a third party company I'll refer to as Innover.

    1. Same as before.
    2. The supplier enters the dimensions, weights, handling instructions, etc. into Innover's system. There are no checks to make sure the data is valid.
    3. If supplier has not entered information by DEADLINE1, Innover's system sends them a reminder email.
    4. If supplier has not entered information by DEADLINE2, Innover's system sends them a stern reminder email.
    5. If supplier has not entered information by DEADLINE3, resort to step 2 from the old process (i.e., we call the supplier).
      • As before, if we do not get the information we need far enough in advance of the ship date, we escalate to Innotel, and they get the information for us.
    6. Innover's system emails the information to us, and we manually enter it.
    • If it is determined that the information received is bad (e.g., dimensions of 0x0x0 for a crate), resort to step 2 from the old process (i.e., we call the supplier).
    1. We make arrangements for the shipment.
    2. The supplier goes to Innover's system to print labels for their crates.
    3. Innover's system sends a message to us asking for the tracking number.
    4. A new system, which we haven't developed yet, will process the request and respond with the tracking number.
    5. The supplier prints the labels and affixes them to the crates.
    6. We finally ship everything.
    7. Same as step 4 in the old process.

    I had a one hour conference call on this today, and it took everything I had not to tell them they are fucking morons. Looking over this "improvement":

    • There's a high likelihood that we will still need to keep calling the suppliers when they miss deadlines, at least with troublesome suppliers.
    • Innover's system is actually designed to encourage the entry of dummy data. "You mean the reminders stop coming when I enter in any data?" This will lead to us still needing to call.
    • I honestly have no problem with the communication channel as I outlined it in step 5. It's actually not bad. Except the use of that channel entirely depends on the success of the rest of the new process.
    • I should probably mention that they want us to use a communication protocol for step 5 which will require an upfront investment from us to get the channel open. Not something my boss is keen on doing for a test.

    In the end: I see benefits for only one party in this project: Innover. They get paid no matter what.


  • :belt_onion:

    @Matches said:

    I fixed the formatting for you @abarker, view raw.

    ARE YOU A WIZARD?


  • mod

    @Matches said:

    I fixed the formatting for you @abarker, view raw.

    You have opened my eyes!!! I bow at the feet of the master!!!



  • Sounds like someone is trying to hide shipments of meth precursors.


  • mod

    This post is deleted!

  • mod

    My guess is, this entire incident was probably caused by the culture at Innotel. There are three ways to stay employed at Innotel: get promoted, get transferred, or com up with some new project. You must do one of these every 18-24 months, or risk losing your job.1

    1I say this not from personal experience, but from the experience of a cousin who worked there, and from the experience of a co-worker who used to work there. Obviously, once you reach a sufficient level, these rules no longer apply.



  • @abarker said:

    Innover's system emails the information to us

    People, when your system uses eMail as a M2M channel, you're doing it wrong!

    Also, M2P communications are wrong. That's why we have computers, to get rid of annoying people.


  • mod

    Oh I agree. Unfortunately, we are being given 1% of a say in this entire process: we get to pick the destination email address in the step you quoted!



  • Quick solution: your company buys Innover. Now your company will get payed for the job you do. You can fix the validation, eliminate the email-manual-enter-... process. Innotel gets better service, you sleep well. Win-win.


  • mod

    Except my company has no interest in purchasing Innover. As I mentioned in the OP:

    @abarker said:

    I do software development for a moving company

    Innover is a software company. Purchasing them would be a bad business move.


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