To a hammer, a nail; to an accountant, a spreadsheet



  • Kind of wooden-table-esque.  I've noticed that each department in my company has a different way of handling documents and forms.  They know 1 way to create a document, and have no interest in learning any other tool.

    To Design, everything is an Adobe InDesign document.  All of their forms are made in InDesign.  They also make product schedules, and spreadsheets using InDesign.  Yes; they get a spreadsheet, then import it into InDesign to make it pretty.  Their forms are beautiful, but non-functional, and can't be updated by anyone but them.

    To Editorial, everything is a Word document.  Every form they produce, is done in Word.  They also import excel spreadsheets into Word, or never even bother with Excel and just go to Insert->Table.  They distribute forms and documents as DOCX files, rather than PDFs, which allows any recipient to make changes that prevent the form from being standardized or easily filled in.  They never use any paper size but 8.5"x11".

    To Marketing,  everything is a PowerPoint.  They have templates; corporate approved designs that, while beautiful, are so bogged down with corporate colors, logos, and elements that they are virtually unworkable.  God help you if you have a Mac - these PowerPoints have a tendency to open up in Greek script.

    To HR, everything is a PDF.  Every form is a flat PDF - no form functionality.  You are expected to print it out, fill it in by hand, and either fax or scan & email it back in.

    To Accounting, everything is a spreadsheet.  Our standard job
    application form is an Excel spreadsheet designed by Accounting (don't
    ask why Accounting is doing this instead of HR).  The spreadsheet is
    immaculate, that is, until you try to type in it and have to manually
    break your text between cells, deal with bizarre formatting, being
    incapable of inserting an extra line, having no spell-check, etc.  Again,
    god help you if you use a Mac, because the spreadsheet uses  PC-only
    fonts, and is formatted to 8.5"x11" down to the pixel.  Using the
    spreadsheet on a Mac causes it to print out 4 pages instead of 1.



  • THIS.

    Drives me crazy that everyone needs a copy of InDesign or Illustrator just to view proofs of crap from our designers. I also work with a bunch of Engineers so there's another department of nothing but Excel spreadsheets.



  • @KrakenLover said:

    To HR, everything is a PDF.  Every form is a flat PDF - no form functionality.  You are expected to print it out, fill it in by hand, and either fax or scan & email it back in.

    Or use a PDF editor? That's what I do when people tell me to print out a PDF, fill it in and scan it. Because I don't have a printer or scanner.



  • But in the end, none of these are the people you need worry about. No, there's a different menace - that demographic of sales/marketing/operations managers that "took a couple programming classes in college".

    And then suddenly, you have another mission critical 500 MB Access database stored solely on a desktop computer that's not part of any backup routine.



  •  [i]To Developers, everything is a tiny script.[/i]  This script takes three parameters: the input file, the department the data is coming from, and the department the data is going to. The program does exactly two things. It takes roughly 0.5ms to convert the form from one department's format to the next, and takes another 0.5ms to log an entry in the time tracker that reads "1 hour: filled out form for $receiving_department". The developer then goes on an extended lunch break and/or plays Angry Birds.



  • @Lorne Kates said:

     The developer then goes on an extended lunch break and/or plays Angry Birds.

    Angry Birds.  Fun game.  For about 20 minutes.  Then I was done.  Definately dont get the national obsession with it.



  • @Peraninth said:

    @Lorne Kates said:

     The developer then goes on an extended lunch break and/or plays Angry Birds.

    Angry Birds.  Fun game.  For about 20 minutes.  Then I was done.  Definately dont get the national obsession with it.

    You're just not trying hard enough then...  The first several levels can be beat first try, but as you go along and the levels get harder, that's when the obsession kicks in.  At least, for me it was that way.


  • @db2 said:

    But in the end, none of these are the people you need worry about. No, there's a different menace - that demographic of sales/marketing/operations managers that "took a couple programming classes in college".

    And then suddenly, they have another mission critical 500 MB Access database stored solely on a desktop computer that's not part of any backup routine of yours, since it's not your responsibility...

    FTFY. If a manager wants to becomes a developer, they need to understand what they are managing, why they're managing it, and to what level they are managing it. They may learn the hard way, but it's a good lesson of accountability and ownership -  and the same reason you didn't decide to undertake the whole financial management of your organisation following a couple of book-keeping college classes...



  • @C-Octothorpe said:

    @Peraninth said:

    @Lorne Kates said:

     The developer then goes on an extended lunch break and/or plays Angry Birds.

    Angry Birds.  Fun game.  For about 20 minutes.  Then I was done.  Definately dont get the national obsession with it.

    You're just not trying hard enough then...  The first several levels can be beat first try, but as you go along and the levels get harder, that's when the obsession kicks in.  At least, for me it was that way.
     

    +2.63.  I bought the game when I was out with a cold for a few days, and have been playing it since. Then again, I tend to be a binge gamer. I've cleard all 280(?) levels. Now that I have a better understanding of the game engine and physics, I'm going through again to get 3 stars and all the golden eggs.

    That, and I have almost zero free time for games. I can launch the game, play through two or three levels, and close it down quicker than I can get to the Start screen for any of my console games. It's addictive, immediate, and fits into what little free time I have.

     



  • @C-Octothorpe said:

    @Peraninth said:

    @Lorne Kates said:

     The developer then goes on an extended lunch break and/or plays Angry Birds.

    Angry Birds.  Fun game.  For about 20 minutes.  Then I was done.  Definately dont get the national obsession with it.

    You're just not trying hard enough then...  The first several levels can be beat first try, but as you go along and the levels get harder, that's when the obsession kicks in.  At least, for me it was that way.


    I'm with Peraninth. Every level is very much the previous level with a "trick" or a "twist". I played up to level whatever .. I don't remember now, I want to say to 20 or so, and it became too repetitive for me. I think the american obsession with it is that it doesn't require a lot of up-front investment in the game, and you can play a couple of rounds while waiting in line or whatever.



  • @tweek said:

    I think the american obsession with it is that it doesn't require a lot of up-front investment in the game, and you can play a couple of rounds while waiting in line or whatever.

    We got Pac-Man Fever.

    Hey, we invented the video game. Every decade or so we go nutso over some particular title-- Pong, Pac-Man, Tetris, even Halo to some extent all got that treatment, where basically everybody everywhere got excited. Angry Birds is just the latest.

    Apropos of nothing, one of my favorite song titles is, "Pac-Man is naked and so should you" The song itself is mediocre, but the TITLE is amazing.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Or use a PDF editor? That's what I do when people tell me to print out a PDF, fill it in and scan it. Because I don't have a printer or scanner.

    Annoying recent experience: trying to fill out an application form for an increase on my home loan. The bank had done the form as an editable PDF, but restricted so you couldn't save it. (They did at least have a warning notice, so I knew about this restriction and wasn't caught by surprise.)

    First WTF: I couldn't submit the form electronically; the only methods of submission were by post or fax. Why couldn't they have an email address to send it to?

    Second WTF: What's the reasoning behind not allowing you to save the form? I'm guessing it's some sort of insane pseudo-security idea, but I really don't get it.

    Third WTF: It's a fairly long form and you need to get supporting documentation together, so it takes a while to get everything ready. This makes not allowing you to save the form even more stupid and aggravating, especially when...

    Fourth WTF: About 80% of the way through filling out the form, Acrobat (yes, I know, TRWTF is Adobe) crashed and I lost all the data I'd entered into the form. What a pity I hadn't saved it...

    The second time around I just printed out pages as I finished them. Of course, it was a bit easier by then anyway because I'd already done things like downloading my latest payslip from work, etc.



  • @Scarlet Manuka said:

    Second WTF: What's the reasoning behind not allowing you to save the form?
    Because this is a loan application. Savings are a different department.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Hey, we invented the video game.

    You did? I think the jury's out on that one. Most documentaries cite "Space War" as the first videogame, but they're only looking at western development.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Every decade or so we go nutso over some particular title-- Pong, Pac-Man, Tetris

    Pacman was a Japanese invention, Tetris a Russian one...

    @blakeyrat said:

    Apropos of nothing, one of my favorite song titles is, "Pac-Man is naked and so should you" The song itself is mediocre, but the TITLE is amazing.

    I should naked? Hmmm....

    If you've played Pacman extensively,  you may have seen the cut-scenes with the ghosts... one of them involved a hint of off-screen horizontal jogging.



  • @Scarlet Manuka said:

    The second time around I just printed out pages as I finished them.
    Next thing you know, they'll refuse your form because "you only filled in the first page" (because there's a script-controlled QR code that updates dynamically with your inputs from all pages on it).



  • @ender said:

    @Scarlet Manuka said:
    The second time around I just printed out pages as I finished them.
    Next thing you know, they'll refuse your form because "you only filled in the first page" (because there's a script-controlled QR code that updates dynamically with your inputs from all pages on it).
     

    You laugh, but that is exactly what happened with my passport application. Some of the fields the QR was generated on included the guarantor's page-- you know, the one you MUST print out and get signed. 

    So I filled out my part, printed out the (unsavable) application, and as much of my guarantor's info as I could (I didn't know their postal code, I believe). I printed it out, and took it around with me to get signed by several different people, and sent it in. It hung around the government offices for too long, and then they finally phoned me with "we don't have the contact information for people X, Y, Z".  So I had to print out and fill in a supplimentary form, even though all the information was RIGHT GODDAMN THERE ON PAGE 2. But the QR code on Page 1 said "omfg missing info!", and it would be too much effort to flip the page to check.

    So if I had filled it in completely, or left it completely blank, it would have been OK. But even one bit of information causes the teeny tiny cogs to jam up and sob in a corner.



  • Hmm... I think someone needs to talk to the HR department I am working on a project for, they are excel abusers not pdf.  The good news is that our project is intended to automate some of their work so that they are not as big excel document abusers, and more of the form processing can be done online.



  • @Scarlet Manuka said:

    Second WTF: What's the reasoning behind not allowing you to save the form? I'm guessing it's some sort of insane pseudo-security idea, but I really don't get it.
     

    The rationale I've heard for this in the past is that it prevents you from storing a filled-out form with sensitive personal information in it (e.g., social security number for Americans) on your computer. I'm not sure why that would be inherently less secure than having it printed out on a piece of paper, but that's the explanation I got.



  • @Cassidy said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Hey, we invented the video game.

    You did? I think the jury's out on that one. Most documentaries cite "Space War" as the first videogame, but they're only looking at western development.

    There's a few contenders for "first video game", but every single one's American. So...

    @Cassidy said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Every decade or so we go nutso over some particular title-- Pong, Pac-Man, Tetris

    Pacman was a Japanese invention, Tetris a Russian one...

    Waiting for you to get to a point...



  • @blakeyrat said:

    There's a few contenders for "first video game", but every single one's American. So...

    Damn. You are Walter Day!

    @blakeyrat said:

    Waiting for you to get to a point...

    I suppose the point was that you invented the videogame but you go nuts over the videogame that you didn't invent. Or something.

    Dunno. It was before lunch, so I probably hit "POST" without re-reading it so.. ignore this point. Not worth waiting on.



  • @Scarlet Manuka said:

    The bank had done the form as an editable PDF, but restricted so you couldn't save it. (They did at least have a warning notice, so I knew about this restriction and wasn't caught by surprise.)
     

    You can edit / print but not save it, WTF?
    What happens when you "print" it to a PDF printer?* IIRC kpdf and similar have options which allow you to either respect or ignore those restrictions.

     



  • @blakeyrat said:

    We got Pac-Man Fever.

    Then you need this.

    As to Americans inventing the video game, it's a moot point. Goldsmith and Mann's CRT Amusement Device in 1947 is sort of a game, but still needed a painted overlay, so I personally wouldn't count that one. Though designed and patented as an arcade novelty, it never went beyond hand-built prototypes.

    Likewise, I don't count Prinz's chess program for the Ferranti Mark I (1947–1958) in Manchester University, England. It could only solve "mate in two moves" problems and does not in my book count as a complete game.

    BUT the NIM game played on a computer (the NIMROD) that Ferranti built for the purpose of playing NIM ticks all the boxes IMHO. Created for the Festival of Britain in 1951, therefore playable by the visiting public, and definitely British and not American. If you're going to be picky about it using lamps and not a Proper CRT, then that would take us to 1952 and the splendidly named Professor Alexander "Sandy" Shafto Douglas CBE and the first fully graphical game, OXO or Tic-Tac-Toe: also British. Sadly, "Sandy" died only last year, at the age of 88.

    Tennis For Two came six years later in 1958, with the famous Space Wars not debuting until three years after that in 1961.



  • @Cad Delworth said:

    As to Americans inventing the video game, it's a moot point. Goldsmith and Mann's CRT Amusement Device in 1947 is sort of a game, but still needed a painted overlay, so I personally wouldn't count that one. Though designed and patented as an arcade novelty, it never went beyond hand-built prototypes.

    Likewise, I don't count Prinz's chess program for the Ferranti Mark I (1947–1958) in Manchester University, England. It could only solve "mate in two moves" problems and does not in my book count as a complete game.

    BUT the NIM game played on a computer (the NIMROD) that Ferranti built for the purpose of playing NIM ticks all the boxes IMHO. Created for the Festival of Britain in 1951, therefore playable by the visiting public, and definitely British and not American. If you're going to be picky about it using lamps and not a Proper CRT, then that would take us to 1952 and the splendidly named Professor Alexander "Sandy" Shafto Douglas CBE and the first fully graphical game, OXO or Tic-Tac-Toe: also British. Sadly, "Sandy" died only last year, at the age of 88.

    Tennis For Two came six years later in 1958, with the famous Space Wars not debuting until three years after that in 1961.

    Everybody knows the first video game was Halo.



  • @Someone You Know said:

    The rationale I've heard for this in the past is that it prevents you from storing a filled-out form with sensitive personal information in it (e.g., social security number for Americans) on your computer. I'm not sure why that would be inherently less secure than having it printed out on a piece of paper, but that's the explanation I got.
    Adobe: "Because you're too cheap to buy Acrobat Professional and they're too cheap to buy LifeCycle Server GIVE US MONEY!!!"



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    @ender said:

    @Scarlet Manuka said:
    The second time around I just printed out pages as I finished them.
    Next thing you know, they'll refuse your form because "you only filled in the first page" (because there's a script-controlled QR code that updates dynamically with your inputs from all pages on it).
     

    You laugh, but that is exactly what happened with my passport application. Some of the fields the QR was generated on included the guarantor's page-- you know, the one you MUST print out and get signed. 

    So I filled out my part, printed out the (unsavable) application, and as much of my guarantor's info as I could (I didn't know their postal code, I believe). I printed it out, and took it around with me to get signed by several different people, and sent it in. It hung around the government offices for too long, and then they finally phoned me with "we don't have the contact information for people X, Y, Z".  So I had to print out and fill in a supplimentary form, even though all the information was RIGHT GODDAMN THERE ON PAGE 2. But the QR code on Page 1 said "omfg missing info!", and it would be too much effort to flip the page to check.

    So if I had filled it in completely, or left it completely blank, it would have been OK. But even one bit of information causes the teeny tiny cogs to jam up and sob in a corner.

    Holy crap, thanks for that.

    Just today, I'm filling out a (CDN) passport renewal for my fiancee, and a passport application for my 4.5 month old son. I see the QR codes on both and think nothing of it, or rather it's just an ID or something for the form, so it can easily be routed to the appropriate department or whatever. The forms are 95% complete, with a few things left to be filled in by hand and have been printed out already. Guess I'll need to go back and re-do them.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Everybody knows the first video game was Halo.
     

    Merely a Doom clone.

    (Not making a case for non-American developers though)

     



  • @Nexzus said:

    Just today, I'm filling out a (CDN) passport renewal for my fiancee, and a passport application for my 4.5 month old son. I see the QR codes on both and think nothing of it, or rather it's just an ID or something for the form, so it can easily be routed to the appropriate department or whatever. The forms are 95% complete, with a few things left to be filled in by hand and have been printed out already. Guess I'll need to go back and re-do them.
    I'd just take a thick black marker and draw a smudge over the QR code. Hey, the info is all there, on paper, just like you wanted it to be.



  •  I know the feeling of the Excel hammer, here's a few spreadsheet-related things I've had to deal with:

    My sister was sending me an image to get an idea of how she wanted her wedding "save the date" to look like as I was putting it together for her. She found an image online of a gig ticket that she really liked the style of. Now the obvious thing to do would just be to send the URL of the image. Instead, I got a scaled-down version of the image, embedded in an Excel sheet with the cell borders turned white to look like a plain background. When I asked her why she didn't just paste the image into the email (she was using Outlook) she said she "knew only how to use Excel". She's in accounting though, so I guess it's justone of those things that won't change.

    Then at work I'm given Gantt charts all prepared in Excel, rather than something like MS Project (which we hold a couple of licenses for) or some other format that actually made sense. Oh, and the person responsible for the "Gantt chart"? He's our digital project manager, someone who's meant to have a technical background. He also insisted in having a version of Photoshop (originally taking a license away from the front-end dev team who needed it) to open web page designs (which are saved as JPEG files anyway for the account handling team) and draw black & white mock-ups (although I'm not sure why these are needed, as they've never been sent to a client and are completely useless to both design and dev departments)

     Also at work and not so long ago, I was sent a .csv file and told to use that as a guide to the amendments to be made to a basic in-house work scheduler to calculate hours spent and costs & profits, etc. Seems he had used the export as CSV option that we put into the software, used Excel (which is obviously the default application for .csv files on Windows) added formulas and other comments, and then just hit save. I had to explain why he'd have to redo it all, although in fairness he realised right away when I pointed out the file format. Why Microsoft thought it was a good idea to hide file extensions is anybodys guess as it replaces one set of problems for another.

    Then my fiancée was sent a spreadsheet of her work rota (flexible shifts) and apparently the person who created it had never heard of these things called borders. To create a border effect her boss had just used columns and rows shrunk really thin and filled with a background colour.

    And then we've got the "bug tracker", which is just a list of items in a Google Docs spreadsheet, with a column referencing the parent task id that needs to be completed first, except the parent id is referencing a row number in the spreadsheet, so as soon as one row is added or removed, everything else below that point is messed up.



  • @ASheridan said:

    Then at work I'm given Gantt charts all prepared in Excel, rather than something like MS Project
    There are some advantages, I believe, although it's more likely just to be a stupid user given the other things you've said.

    @ASheridan said:

    Seems he had used the export as CSV option that we put into the software, used Excel (which is obviously the default application for .csv files on Windows) added formulas and other comments, and then just hit save.
    Excel warns you that saving as CSV will discard all that stuff - he must have actively chosen the 'doesn't matter' option when prompted.
    @ASheridan said:
    Then my fiancée was sent a spreadsheet of her work rota (flexible shifts) and apparently the person who created it had never heard of these things called borders. To create a border effect her boss had just used columns and rows shrunk really thin and filled with a background colour.
    Maybe he's this guy?



  • @fterfi secure said:

    Excel warns you that saving as CSV will discard all that stuff - he must have actively chosen the 'doesn't matter' option ignored the text in the dialog box and clicked whatever button got rid of it fastest when prompted.
     

    TUTFY.



  • @KrakenLover said:

    I've noticed that each department in my company has a different way of handling documents and forms.
    Same at my company, but worse: each sub-department has a different way of storing data.

    Some people store their data in the database.  I appreciate these people, and I make sure to reward them with biscuits and clicking noises.

    But some store their data on shared drives.  So we get to run into all kinds of fun issues like poorly-defined permissions, file-locking, user-designed "version control", and so on.  These issues are even more fun when encountered by automated reports.

    And some store their data in Sharepoint (yes, I can't seem to convince people that just because Sharepoint can be used to store data, doesn't mean it's a good idea to do so).

    And some store their data on their desktop.  So if you need it, you have to know who to ask.  And if you're lucky, that person might even know who actually has the data.

    And similarly, some store their data on the mail server:

    "Hey, can you send me the budget data for last year?  Thanks!"

    "oh yeah sure let me find that email I got sometime last year that has it and forward it to you okay I found it here it is enjoy"

    "Are you sure that's the right version?  It's named 2011Budget_data02_old.xlsx"

    "oh sorry that's an old one here try this one I found it in my trash this one's the right one I'm sure of it: 2011Budget_data01_old_new.xlsx"

    sob




  • My newest program used to store files on their desktop and use email to exchange it leading to two of your types of cases.  Shortly before I joined the program they got Sharepoint setup and have begun using it.  Overall it has been doing an excellent job (compared to desktop and email) for tracking, storing and controlling documents.



  • @ASheridan said:

    Instead, I got a scaled-down version of the image, embedded in an Excel sheet with the cell borders turned white to look like a plain background. When I asked her why she didn't just paste the image into the email (she was using Outlook) she said she "knew only how to use Excel". She's in accounting though, so I guess it's justone of those things that won't change.

    Similar situation when working support: someone took a 1280x1024 screen dump of an error message, saved it as a bitmap and embedded it in cell A1 of an excel spreadsheet which was then forwarded to us. After taking ages over an ISDN line, we finally got the file down, and opened it to see a huge picture with a tiny dialogue box stating "drive empty - no tape detected". Yup, that was the reason why the backup failed, but being an accountant, she didn't understand this technical stuff....

    @ASheridan said:

    Then at work I'm given Gantt charts all prepared in Excel, rather than something like MS Project

    Bloody hell. WHY? Excel was never meant to be a project planning tool - why do people insist on using it as such?

    (yes, I know - if the only tool you know of is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail....)



  • @Anketam said:

    Shortly before I joined the program they got Sharepoint setup and have begun using it.  Overall it has been doing an excellent job (compared to desktop and email) for tracking, storing and controlling documents.
    For documents, sure.  But for data storage?



  • @boog said:

    @Anketam said:

    Shortly before I joined the program they got Sharepoint setup and have begun using it.  Overall it has been doing an excellent job (compared to desktop and email) for tracking, storing and controlling documents.
    For documents, sure.  But for data storage?

    Gonna be pedantic, but.. surely all documents are data? I know that by storing it (data) in Sharepoint it can be indexed by a search engine, it can be linked to related data and also be subject to version control, audit trails and role-based access security. Plus, it's possible for Sharepoint's reporting tools to mine and present the data in a fashion more meaningful to respective audiences.

    I feel I'm missing the point here. Probably because I don't know sharepoint too well, but... can someone bestow enlightenment upon this ignorant serf?



  • @Cassidy said:

    Gonna be pedantic, but.. surely all documents are data?
    Meh.

    @Cassidy said:

    I know that by storing it (data) in Sharepoint it can be indexed by a search engine, it can be linked to related data and also be subject to version control, audit trails and role-based access security.
    Sure, but personally I'd rather store my millions of orders, invoices, employee records, inventory, accounts, etc. in a relational database than a spreadsheet or sharepoint list.  Call it a personal preference, if you must.

    @Cassidy said:

    I feel I'm missing the point here.
    Try not to be distracted by the apparent disagreement over Sharepoint's practicality as a data storage mechanism.  My complaint (much like the OP's) was really over inconsistency: everyone has their own way of doing things.



  • @boog said:

    but personally I'd rather store my millions of orders, invoices, employee records, inventory, accounts, etc. in a relational database than a spreadsheet or sharepoint list.  Call it a personal preference, if you must.

    Okay, I see where this misunderstanding has come from. From what I understand, Sharepoint is merely a front-end to a RDBMS back-end, and your data can easily be stored back in the RDBMS with Sharepoint forms displaying your data as a spreadsheet/record/list/report etc.

    ObDisclaimer: I have seen this demonstrated to me, but don't know how to achieve it myself.

    @boog said:

    Try not to be distracted by the apparent disagreement over Sharepoint's practicality as a data storage mechanism.  My complaint (much like the OP's) was really over inconsistency: everyone has their own way of doing things.

    Mmm.. okay, discussion convergence again. Ironically, this week I'm teaching ITIL at an organisation that has a huge "silo mentality" culture and they're complaining about the lack of integration between their disparate systems.



  • @Cassidy said:

    Mmm.. okay, discussion convergence again. Ironically, this week I'm teaching ITIL at an organisation that has a huge "silo mentality" culture and they're complaining about the lack of integration between their disparate systems.

    I like to call those "Cylinders of Excellence."

    At least they seem to be aware that they have a problem.



  • @boomzilla said:

    At least they seem to be aware that they have a problem.

    Actually, a bit of a Catch-22 situation: those at the "coal-face" and are directly affected by it are aware of the problem but aren't mandated to fix it. Those in ivory towers who have the authority to fix it aren't affected by the problem and thus are in denial anything needs to be done ("if it ain't broke" etc).

    We're establishing a framework for metrics gathering/reporting that should provide evidence of the problem - erm, I mean "improvement opportunities" to the powers that be, in the hope that they'll sign off on priorities for action. But watching those that previously felt helpless become energised and chomp at the bit is quite an enlightening experience.

    But, I digress. I blame the beer in this hotel - it's quite moreish.



  • @Cassidy said:

    @boog said:

    but personally I'd rather store my millions of orders, invoices, employee records, inventory, accounts, etc. in a relational database than a spreadsheet or sharepoint list.  Call it a personal preference, if you must.

    Okay, I see where this misunderstanding has come from. From what I understand, Sharepoint is merely a front-end to a RDBMS back-end, and your data can easily be stored back in the RDBMS with Sharepoint forms displaying your data as a spreadsheet/record/list/report etc.

    ObDisclaimer: I have seen this demonstrated to me, but don't know how to achieve it myself.

    @boog said:

    Try not to be distracted by the apparent disagreement over Sharepoint's practicality as a data storage mechanism.  My complaint (much like the OP's) was really over inconsistency: everyone has their own way of doing things.

    Mmm.. okay, discussion convergence again. Ironically, this week I'm teaching ITIL at an organisation that has a huge "silo mentality" culture and they're complaining about the lack of integration between their disparate systems.

    It's clear to me that you've never seen a Sharepoint database. Sharepoint basically has two tables in the database containing the bulk of your data. One is called "AllDocs" and one is called "AllItems" (exact names these may not be). Basically, everything is stored in these two tables. Documents are stored in a single column called "Blob". "Easy" is not the word I'd use to describe Sharepoint data. Provided you never ever look at the RDBMS tables though, you should be fine. If you've got a spare $150/user/year and $20,000 for a Sharepoint Enterprise license and CALs, you can use Business Data Catalog where you can basically treat external data sources (possibly including other DBs) as Sharepoint lists and display them in Sharepoint forms even though they aren't in Sharepoint.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @Cassidy said:
    Mmm.. okay, discussion convergence again. Ironically, this week I'm teaching ITIL at an organisation that has a huge "silo mentality" culture and they're complaining about the lack of integration between their disparate systems.

    I like to call those "Cylinders of Excellence."

    I like to call them 'barrels of angry weasels'. It's amazing how quickly people get the picture when you tell them 'we're having trouble accessing the data stored in your barrels of angry weasels' rather than 'your information silo mentality is obstructional in delivering process-driven data-access synergy requirements'.


  • @Cassidy said:

    From what I understand, Sharepoint is merely a front-end to a RDBMS back-end, and your data can easily be stored back in the RDBMS with Sharepoint forms displaying your data as a spreadsheet/record/list/report etc.
    Then there are the departments who say "screw databases" and just store spreadsheets in Sharepoint.  So yeah.  That makes things fun too.

    @Cassidy said:

    ...this week I'm teaching ITIL at an organisation that has a huge "silo mentality" culture and they're complaining about the lack of integration between their disparate systems.
    Ask them if they would rather keep all their eggs 1) organized in a small,
    managed, recoverable set of baskets, or 2) scattered/hidden in countless locations throughout a dilapidated old factory building on the verge of collapse (as they do now)?

    @Cassidy said:

    ...those at the "coal-face" and are directly affected by it are aware of
    the problem but aren't mandated to fix it. Those in ivory towers who
    have the authority to fix it aren't affected by the problem and thus are
    in denial anything needs to be done ("if it ain't broke" etc).
    That sounds much like my company; the resemblence is uncanny.  Tell me, do the "ivory tower" types of this organization spend boatloads on "disaster recovery" strategies and simulations that hardly account for the seemingly-limitless disparate storage locations and methods too?



  • @Kyanar said:

    It's clear to me that you've never seen a Sharepoint database.

    It shows, doesn't it? Thanks for your horror story - informative and a good warning to stay the shitting fuck well away from Sharepoint internals. Didn't realise it was that bad. I know version control in earlier releases was horribly implemented and the later releases (2010?) can show delta changes within documents, but still... looks like it has a ways to go yet.

    @fterfi secure said:

    I like to call them 'barrels of angry
    weasels'. It's amazing how quickly people get the picture when you tell
    them 'we're having trouble accessing the data stored in your barrels of
    angry weasels' rather than 'your information silo mentality is
    obstructional in delivering process-driven data-access synergy
    requirements'.

    Mmm.. perhaps I should clarify: what I call them (to the customer face) isn't necesarily what words are actually formed in my mind. I tend to be diplomatic like that. Soft of me, I know.

    @boog said:

    That sounds much like my company; the resemblence is
    uncanny.

    Apparently it's quite a widespread fuckwittery management culture. However, in this case, I won't name the organisation.

    @boog said:

    Tell me, do the "ivory tower" types of this organization spend
    boatloads on "disaster recovery" strategies and simulations that hardly
    account for the seemingly-limitless disparate storage locations and
    methods too?

    No. They've found many other inventive ways of shedding public money which range from the mildly inane to utter bucketfuck banana hatstand. I'll pass on your suggestions to complete their list.



  • @Cassidy said:

    @fterfi secure said:

    I like to call them 'barrels of angry
    weasels'. It's amazing how quickly people get the picture when you tell
    them 'we're having trouble accessing the data stored in your barrels of
    angry weasels' rather than 'your information silo mentality is
    obstructional in delivering process-driven data-access synergy
    requirements'.

    Mmm.. perhaps I should clarify: what I call them (to the customer face) isn't necesarily what words are actually formed in my mind. I tend to be diplomatic like that. Soft of me, I know.

    I find there are situations where it's better to be completely honest about what you think of a product. It's often the only way to get through to non-technical people that they're contemplating doing something stupid. For example, after an hour long meeting trying to explain to a client why they didn't want to get a Sharepoint or Lotus Notes set-up, or some such, they'll finally get the message when I explain that the technical term for such software is 'giant heap of dysenteric poo you shouldn't touch with a bargepole whilst wearing gloves'. You could just say 'trust me, don't do it', but that doesn't get the message across as well as the sudden jarring use of a completely non-businesslike metaphor in a business context - you can bet that if there's one thing they'll remember from the meeting, that'll be it.

    If they don't respect your opinion enough to take the advice, you're wasting your time anyway. If they do, then it can be a great time-saver in future because you just need to say 'barrel of weasels' or whatever and it's shorthand for 'this is like that discussion we had about information silos etc etc yada yada'.



  • Righty: I'll head this off at the pass, since I re-read some of my posts and realise I may have given the wrong impression.

    The organisation has a silo culture due to the way they operated historically, and resisted any integration attempts since the decision-makers grew up with the oragnisation and didn't buy into this new fuddy-duddy computer fangled stuff. Consequently, they've fallen behind the marketplace, but that's okay since everything still worked and the powers that be still gained their performance-related bonuses for acheiving their targets.

    Then upper manglement either moved on into pastures new or were put out to pasture, and middle management were parachuted into the vacancy whilst new blood came up from below.

    So now we've got a situation of upper management not really understanding strategy, and suddelny there's pressure to cut costs. Youngblood middle management and new coalface are both pressing to make some radical business transformational changes, and upper management - previously used to a cycle of bringing new-fangled ideas to the ivory tower then return with the inevitable rejection - are forced to make decisions of their own. They're spineless because they have no elders to fall back upon, and lack the courage to sign off.

    So middle and lower are all chomping at the bit; the longer upper can stall, the more they can delay that fateful day when shit happens. They're worried it's gonna be bad shit. At present I'm showing them ways in which they can dress up and sell this as good shit, and prove success via post-project benefits review.

    It's an uphill struggle, but they're getting there. It just takes one or two noticible successes, then uppers can feel confident in sitting back and letting the middle layer handle things. But that day will come, and I feel it's fast approaching.

     

    TL;DR: I'm with the victims and observers of silo mentality, fighting their corner with them. Come the revolution, comrades...



  • @Cassidy said:

    They're spineless because they have no elders to fall back upon, and lack the courage to sign off.
    @Cassidy said:
    It just takes one or two noticible successes, then uppers can feel confident in sitting back and letting the middle layer handle things.
    I'm not disagreeing here - just noting that sometimes management lack the confidence to make a decision because they haven't been brought to understand that it's an obvious one. Sometimes you need to tell them 'trust me, this is what you're paying me for'.



  • Yep, but I wanted to clarify - I'm not in the position of actually doing that, I'm in the position of encouraging others to do just that (I'm a site visitor), and discussing ways in which they can impart their message in a managerial-understandable way.

    (they're refraining from using the Sandpaper Dildo Of Deeper Understanding and Cluebat Of Refocussed Priorities currently)


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