The Incompetence Theory applied to Project liasons



  • I run a small software company. When wearing my Project Manager hat I often notice a strange phenomenon when starting a new project with a company who may not have much experience with new software.

    The scenario is supposed to work like this:

    1. The customer signs a contract and one of their responsibilities is to nominate an employee of theirs to be the main project liason. This person is supposed to be the main point of contact on the customer side.

    2. The boss looks around in the company for someone to do this job.

    3. Lots of meetings etc.

    4. Project finished and everybody is happy. 

    However, what usually happens is this. The boss looks around for someone he thinks he can spare for a few months. This results in the most useless person in an organization being given the job. In most companies the most talented and useful people are too busy to spare, so the 'office idiot' gets the job. The average misguided boss thinks that this is acceptable. 

    This explains why we see such classics as a customer liason I had once who didn't know that a client app won't work very well if the server is down. The same person couldn't understand why every time she asked for a new feature I asked for more money. After about a year of this, the entire project turned into a series of bitchy cat-fights and sarcastic emails.

    Fun all round... 

     

     



  • This happens to lots of tasks that a boss doesn't think is important.  You can try to educate your clients about the important of the position, but you'll probably fail.
     



  • Well, the best way for the office idiot to learn is by doing, I guess.

     

    And sarcastic emails always provide fun when shown/read aloud to colleages. Fun is good, hence disastrous projects are good. In a way.



  • @Pjotr G said:

    Well, the best way for the office idiot to learn is by doing, I guess.

    "Experience is a dear school, but fools will learn at no other" 



  • I know exactly what you mean, i've had this same experience at at quite large companies with hunreds of employees and they pick a completely computer illiterate office drone to manage their side of the project.  I once had an exerience where in a meeting, about six months into the project, the company's "i.t project manager" made it clear that she thought each questionnaire(which is unique for each one of their thousands of customers) was a separate page rather than being read from a database, six months into a project she was supposedly managing!!!  And she'd been present in numerous meetings about the databases design and functionality, smiling and nodding away.  The thing is this software wasn't a small part of the companies business structure it was their whole client facing software + integration with their existing systems and they put someone in charge who's total computer knowledge amounted to a very basic understanding of microsoft office.  This lead to so many wtf's including absolutely terrible bug reports(despite us making and repeatedly emailing them a bug report template)

    A typical bug report from this project manager would go something like this.

    pm "I was filling out a question this morning and i got an error"

    me "what did the error say?"

    pm "i can't remember, i  just clicked ok"

    me "who were you logged in as?"

    pm "I'm not sure"

    me "Can you remember what question you were answering?" 

    pm "I think it was in the <some questionnaire that contains thousands of questions> questionaire"

    me "did you get the bug report template i sent you?"

     pm "yeah but i thought i'd just ring you instead"(she hated email for some reason)

    me "ummmmm.....ok......I'll look into it"

     



  • The worst thing is when the incompetent project manager also likes to hear himself or herself talk, and you have a weekly conference call, and the project manager for the company you are doing business with also is incompetent and likes to hear himself talk.

     



  • The last company I worked for took this up a notch by putting morons on our end as well.  Nothing better than having two idiots serving as a proxy between developers.



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    The last company I worked for took this up a notch by putting morons on our end as well.  Nothing better than having two idiots serving as a proxy between developers.

    Consider it a challenge: invent a communications protocol that preserves message integrity over an extremely stupid transport layer. 



  • @asuffield said:

    @vt_mruhlin said:

    The last company I worked for took this up a notch by putting morons on our end as well.  Nothing better than having two idiots serving as a proxy between developers.

    Consider it a challenge: invent a communications protocol that preserves message integrity over an extremely stupid transport layer. 

     

    It should be called stupidity enveloping 



  • @asuffield said:

    @vt_mruhlin said:

    The last company I worked for took this up a notch by putting morons on our end as well.  Nothing better than having two idiots serving as a proxy between developers.

    Consider it a challenge: invent a communications protocol that preserves message integrity over an extremely stupid transport layer. 

    In the end I ended up shooting myself in the foot.  Kept yelling at our project manager for paraphrasing and losing details during the translation.  So of course the next time I said "Man, this customer is so <explitive deleted> stupid.  Tell those idiots to turn the <explitive deleted> box on this time, then see if it works", he dutifully forwarded the message with no paraphrasing.  I guess I asked for it.



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    @asuffield said:

    @vt_mruhlin said:

    The last company I worked for took this up a notch by putting morons on our end as well.  Nothing better than having two idiots serving as a proxy between developers.

    Consider it a challenge: invent a communications protocol that preserves message integrity over an extremely stupid transport layer. 

    In the end I ended up shooting myself in the foot.  Kept yelling at our project manager for paraphrasing and losing details during the translation.  So of course the next time I said "Man, this customer is so <explitive deleted> stupid.  Tell those idiots to turn the <explitive deleted> box on this time, then see if it works", he dutifully forwarded the message with no paraphrasing.  I guess I asked for it.

    Sounds very familiar. My pedodontological moment went like this: 

    Phonecall from company idiot gets picked up by developer. The developer reports to me (standing nearby) that the company idiot has managed to delete/damage/undo something. I go off on a long tirade about how this f***ing moron has caused everything in the world to f*** up and should ideally be taken out, raped by a gorilla and then shot. Developer then notifies me that the phone was on broadcast mode, and the customer heard every word. An icy silence continued for a moment and then the developer attempted to cool things down by restoring the database from a backup...

    I guess I got it wrong. The f***ing moron should have been raped by two gorillas and then ritually disembowelled with a rusty spoon. 

     


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