Automate It, But Make It Manual



  • So my company has a number of sales agents who are always on the road. Every week they are sent an email telling them what their sales bonus for the previous week is.

    Up until now this has been a manual process where a person in accounting goes into the database, pulls a report of who gets what and manually sends out the bonus email to each agent.

    Last week I was asked by accounting could I automate this process.

    The requirements are simple. Send an alert to the agent when a new bonus detail is generated. Instead of sending the actual values send them a link to login to the company portal and allow them to view their bonus report. In addition give them the ability to pull up previous bonus reports.

    Not a complicated job at all, after all the bonus details (complete with agent profile) are pulled directly from the database to begin with.

    Well I was ready to deploy the system today when my manager (the head of web development not accounting) comes to me and tells me the requirements have changed. Instead of the system generating an alert email to go to the sales agent, instead it should send her an email detailing what agents should get an alert email. She would then send them the email manually. The content of the email btw is not personalized in any way. It just says, "You have a new bonus report, login to the portal to view".

    I questioned her on why she wants to do this and her response is. She doesnt trust that they will get the email and follow the instructions so she wants to be able to followup on each one personally.

    Head -> desk



  • So offer the solution:

    System sends automatically to the agent, and CCs her.



  • My suggestion: System automatically sends to her with a note saying to forward it to the agent.



  • @dynedain said:

    So offer the solution: System sends automatically to the agent, and CCs her.
    Also use her email address in the reply-to field.  That way she gets the original emails and if the sales folk have any questions, the responses are sent to her.



  • I ended up doing a totalled list of all agents and emails. I found out she wanted to do this as she does another emailing like this every monday. Only that one has a much longer email list.



  • @codefanatic said:

    I ended up doing a totalled list of all agents and emails. I found out she wanted to do this as she does another emailing like this every monday. Only that one has a much longer email list.
    So, she's hanging on to her job with tooth and nail... Got it.



  • Yup. She was originally head of sales but was 'promoted laterally' to head of web when targets were not met. No technology experience at all.

    Its painful to watch her use a computer. She cannot even use multiple tabs in browsers. She will minimise the current browser and double click internet explorer shortcut on desktop instead.



  • @codefanatic said:

    internet explorer



  • @codefanatic said:

    Yup. She was originally head of sales but was 'promoted laterally' to head of web when targets were not met. No technology experience at all.

    Its painful to watch her use a computer. She cannot even use multiple tabs in browsers. She will minimise the current browser and double click internet explorer shortcut on desktop instead.

    So... Jen? or is she just my mom, who, the last time I saw her, asked me where Internet Explorer was on my iPad.



  • @codefanatic said:

    Well I was ready to deploy the system today when my manager (the head of web
    development not accounting) comes to me and tells me the requirements have
    changed.
    Two questions (ok, may be four):

    1. Were the original requirements documented/written down/[paper trail/general CYA stuff]?

      1b) If not, why not?
    2. Assuming the answer to (1) was yes, was the change request similarly documented?

      2b) If not, why not?





      And as already pointed out, offer to CC her on outgoing mails, and have the reply-to address be hers. (I've read the job-security reply.)


  • @codefanatic said:

    Yup. She was originally head of sales but was 'promoted laterally' to head of web when targets were not met. No technology experience at all. Its painful to watch her use a computer. She cannot even use multiple tabs in browsers. She will minimise the current browser and double click internet explorer shortcut on desktop instead.
    Just install IE6 for her and she'll feel right at home...  You can even borrow my old 486 if you'd like.

    EDIT: The sad truth is that she's sabotaging herself by burying her head in the sand and refusing to learn new skills.  The longer she does shit like this, the less employable she becomes (that is unless she's OK with working office admin. at the age of 63).

    Is there any training provided by the company, or some sort of compensation offered?  If so, she should jump on that like the 'Hoff on a hamburger... except less drunk...  or something.  I was going somwhere with this...



  • @codefanatic said:

    I ended up doing a totalled list of all agents and emails.
     

    I'd have gone for the previous options suggested: move the contents of the "to" field into the body (or prepend to the subject title), and set the "to" field to $boss.

    When her mailbox is congested with her requested "TODO" work, she may decide against the manual intervention. Especially when she's identified as the unnecessary bottleneck.

    Sidenote: at one time, I was also asked to do something similar: all outgoing mails would be intercepted by the company secretary who would verify the content then forward it onto the respective address. All incoming email would hit her mailbox first before she manually forwarded it to the final recipient. As this was Exchange server, I had no idea how to do the former (latter was easy), but I passed that over to one of the BillyBoys to handle. They weren't to sure either, but they were just as mystified as to why someone wanted to play MTA all day.

     



  • @codefanatic said:

    She was originally head of sales but was 'promoted laterally' to head of web
     

    Has anyone asked why the "head of web" is manually performing an automated process intended for sales people?

    What's next? Print, fold and send out web pages upon reques?



  • @Cassidy said:

    @codefanatic said:

    She was originally head of sales but was 'promoted laterally' to head of web
     

    Has anyone asked why the "head of web" is manually performing an automated process intended for sales people?

    What's next? Print, fold and send out web pages upon reques?

    Stop encouraging Mildred!



  • @C-Octothorpe said:

    @codefanatic said:

    I ended up doing a totalled list of all agents and emails. I found out she wanted to do this as she does another emailing like this every monday. Only that one has a much longer email list.
    So, she's hanging on to her job with tooth and nail... Got it.

     

     

    Ah yes, that old adage:  "Automate 10% of someone's job and you become their best friend; automate 90% and you become their worst enemy."  Or something.

     

     



  • @tweek said:

    @codefanatic said:
    Yup. She was originally head of sales but was 'promoted laterally' to head of web when targets were not met. No technology experience at all.

    Its painful to watch her use a computer. She cannot even use multiple tabs in browsers. She will minimise the current browser and double click internet explorer shortcut on desktop instead.

    So... Jen? or is she just my mom, who, the last time I saw her, asked me where Internet Explorer was on my iPad.

     

    Wow, not just Jen. That is so close to the level of intellect displayed at meetings by upper management here that its scary.



  • @Cassidy said:

    @codefanatic said:

    She was originally head of sales but was 'promoted laterally' to head of web
     

    Has anyone asked why the "head of web" is manually performing an automated process intended for sales people?

    What's next? Print, fold and send out web pages upon reques?

     

    I made the mistake of bringing it up once at an internal dept meeting when I was new and niave.Lets just say I won't be making that mistake again.

    As for anybody else asking why she is manually performing what should be an automated process . Well think about how/why they moved a non technical manager into the role of head of a software department.

     



  • @Cassidy said:

    @codefanatic said:

    I ended up doing a totalled list of all agents and emails.
     

    I'd have gone for the previous options suggested: move the contents of the "to" field into the body (or prepend to the subject title), and set the "to" field to $boss.

    When her mailbox is congested with her requested "TODO" work, she may decide against the manual intervention. Especially when she's identified as the unnecessary bottleneck.

    Sidenote: at one time, I was also asked to do something similar: all outgoing mails would be intercepted by the company secretary who would verify the content then forward it onto the respective address. All incoming email would hit her mailbox first before she manually forwarded it to the final recipient. As this was Exchange server, I had no idea how to do the former (latter was easy), but I passed that over to one of the BillyBoys to handle. They weren't to sure either, but they were just as mystified as to why someone wanted to play MTA all day.

     

     I believe her goal is to make herself indespensible to the company. Unfortunately those above her are not savvy enough to understand that she is creating a bottleneck. They just see that she has a very heavy workload.

    The fact that she wants to create more work for herself while at the same time also going around the stated requirements and wishes of the project stakeholders is of no consequence. TGIF

     



  • @PJH said:

    @codefanatic said:
    Well I was ready to deploy the system today when my manager (the head of web
    development not accounting) comes to me and tells me the requirements have
    changed.
    Two questions (ok, may be four):

    1. Were the original requirements documented/written down/[paper trail/general CYA stuff]?

      1b) If not, why not?
    2. Assuming the answer to (1) was yes, was the change request similarly documented?

      2b) If not, why not?





      And as already pointed out, offer to CC her on outgoing mails, and have the reply-to address be hers. (I've read the job-security reply.)
     

    1) Yes - I documented requirements, but she is the gatekeeper. As per department policy, she keeps the requirements and only her copy (electronic) is final. i.e. She takes the actual requirements once they are signed off on and rewrites. I have to work to that not the original. Dont get me started on that.

    2) This was not a change request by accounting. This was her change and was not documented. I've tried to push back on getting change requests documented and if it comes from outside dept then I do, but her requests are and will never be documented. She just refers back to 1) her final requirements document.

     


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @codefanatic said:

    Well think about how/why they moved a non technical manager into the role of head of a software department.

     


    Is it because she's known to be incompetent but can't be fired for political reasons?



  •  Oh and no, there is no such things as actual written signoff. I asked why and was told that we have to stay flexible to shifting goals.



  • @PedanticCurmudgeon said:

    @codefanatic said:
    Well think about how/why they moved a non technical manager into the role of head of a software department.

     


    Is it because she's known to be incompetent but can't be fired for political reasons?
     

     Sounds about right.

     



  • @codefanatic said:

    @PedanticCurmudgeon said:

    @codefanatic said:
    Well think about how/why they moved a non technical manager into the role of head of a software department.

     

    Is it because she's known to be incompetent but can't be fired for political reasons?
     

     Sounds about right.

    Bullshit.  She slept with the boss and will squeal if she gets canned.



  •  No I dont think thats it. But I do suspect that she has some form of leverage.

    Its a situation that I dont want to know anymore than I already do. I know enough to have started looking for a new job somewhere else.



  • @codefanatic said:

     No I dont think thats it. But I do suspect that she has some form of leverage.

    Its a situation that I dont want to know anymore than I already do. I know enough to have started looking for a new job somewhere else.

    And this is how decent companies/departments go down the shitter.  All it takes is one toxic personality in management, then one-by-one all the good people who know they don't need to put up with the bullshit are replaced with people who can't find a role anywhere else.



  • @Cassidy said:

    What's next? Print, fold and send out web pages upon reques?

    What, and use an actual BROWSER? No, she should run wireshark, intercept the HTTP traffic (being sure to filter out any other protocols), download the hex dump, write it out on company letterhead (in cursive), put it on a wooden table, take a photo...



  •  SHE'S A PEOPLE PERSON!


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