BOFH: Shove your project managementry up your mailbox!

An anecdotely informationing for anyone sick of IT's jargoneering


Episode 7

"So it's agreed then. You'll codify the project and I'll reach out to the developers for the SDK that you need?" the latest IT project manager asks.

"By 'codify' you mean I'll write the program and by 'reach out' you mean email?" I respond.

"Yes."

"Why not just say email?"

"I... because I might phone them."

"So why not say phone?"

"Because I don't know which would work at this stage, so I..."

"Or contact them," the PFY adds.

"Contact is a good word," I nod.

I bloody hate the new wave of project managers we're seeing these days. You know, the ones who can't do anything, don't know anything, but try and cover it up by making a voicemail upgrade project sound as mission critical as faked moon landings. Then there's the Emperor's new verbs and the verbifying of nouns that make it all sound like we're talking space age stuff. I think they may even be paid by the word.

"I don't think it's by the word as such," the PFY says later when I mention this to him. "I think they're paid by the proportion of their words to yours."

"So if I say 10 words?"

"They'd have to say 15. Or 20. Or - let's be honest - 50."

"Yaaasssss," I concur, the shadowy mists of modern-day project management parting in front of me. "You know there was a time when a project manager was a bit like the captain of the Titanic, and if the project looked like it was going down the crapper they'd just grab a couple of rolls of four-ply and dive into the hole.

"These days though, they tend to be a little more like the captain of the Costa Concordia - not too aware of the size of the crapper they're heading towards until it's too late - but still having enough of an instinct of self-preservation to make sure they step off before the brown stuff arrives."

"They want to meet me later to 'touch base on some tangential deliverables'," the PFY adds.

"Yes, the boss said he thought this voicemail system upgrade would be a good time to make everyone change their voicemail passwords," I answer.

"He doesn't know that the old system is completely incompatible with the new one and that a mandatory password change was going to happen anyway?"

"I think we're the only two who know that," I say. "Wouldn't it be tragic if the email server warning everyone of the PIN reset were to disappear down a lift shaft overnight, and the voicemail server defensively locked itself out of the network after receiving 10,000 wrong passwords in under an hour the following morning?"

"I do love a budget system!" the PFY says.

"Yes, we can thank the project managers for that security recommendation too. The whole thing cost a couple of grand - but with the PM fees and the cost of getting the voice prompts translated into English the bill should be no less than 20k - twice the price of the one we proposed."

"And his one is open source," the PFY says, echoing the Boss's main reason for going with the PM crowd.

"When's the next meeting?" I ask.

"Meetings, I think you'll find. We've got 'pre-implementation phase planning' 2 till 3, 'contingent implementation timelining' 3 till 4, and 'post implementation evaluation procedural steps' 4 till 5."

Gasp!

...2pm...

"So by looking at this cross complimentary overview matrix we can see that the implementation thread management shows a major task concurrency at these three points which will require retasking of the experience support personnel to offload the feedback burden," the head PM blathers.

"So what you're saying is that when we make the change we'll both be too busy to take user enquiries?" I ask.

"Yes, but the divisional compatibility matrix we showed you earlier identifies that the project lacks the key skill matrix requirements to assume that role, so we'd need to task that to a specialised services resource provider."

I look over and see the Boss is just eating this crap up.

"You're going to get contractors in to answer the phone and tell people that voicemail will be back in a few hours?" I gasp. "In the middle of the night, when no one's going to be calling about their voicemail anyway?!"

"We're being paid to manage this process from start to completion with no negative outcome events."

"Okay, I have a counter proposal for you. How about my assistant and I streamline the Project Management process by strategically engaging some recreational projectile modifiers amongst the current Project Management resource?"

"I think he's talking about hitting us with a bat of some sort," the lead PM murmurs to the Boss.

"..then implement an incentive-based contract revision process in a building resource free of distraction," I add.

"…torturing us in a basement," he translated.

"and round off the project by getting my assistant to reenergise the unusable resources at a non- strategic site resource," I conclude.

"..and then burn our bodies on some wasteland."

"Or you could just fork off now and we'll implement the server we were going to in the first place."

"I don't think..." the Boss starts.

"Now where did all this cricket gear come from?" the PFY asks, pulling a large bag out from under the desk.

And just like that, the project is back on track!

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