How to polish the bottom line? Microsoft makes it really hard to claim expenses, say staffers

If even Captain PowerShell can't automate this, what hope is there for the rest of us?


As Microsoft toasts another quarter of soaring profits, The Reg can't help but wonder if the bottom line is being ever so gently assisted by something that seems to be blighting its staff: difficulty claiming expenses.

Jeffrey Snover, Microsoft Technical Fellow, beloved by administrators for PowerShell and stockholders for the likes of Azure Stack, kicked things off last night by airing niggles in that most measured of places – Twitter.

By way of explanation, Snover told The Register "I'm just terrible at following instructions so I'm sure I play a big role here."

Normally he has an administrator to navigate Redmond's systems "because," he said "I suck at doing these things."

We know the feeling.

He was soon joined by fellow Microsoft employees in a lengthy thread bemoaning the app habits of beancounters that all too often seem designed to inhibit rather than assist in the claiming of work expenses. A complaint all too familiar in the corporate world; Microsoft is certainly not alone in foisting internal systems on workers that seem to almost take glee in their obtuseness.

Then again, we're a little surprised that Snover didn't simply automate the heck out of it. If the architect of Windows PowerShell can't sling together a script to satisfy the whims of accounts then what hope is there for the rest of us?

"I would love everything to have a PowerShell interface," said Snover, "but I think that wouldn't help most people doing expenses."

Oh, we don't know. Some systems we've endured make writing one's own cmdlet look like an iteration of "Hello world!" in TI BASIC.

Other posters stated the obvious – how can it be that a software giant like Microsoft seems unable to get the basics right internally? A cynic might posit that quality is occasionally amiss in Microsoft's emissions and, as it famously enjoys chowing down on its own dogfood, employees will get to experience the same joy as the administrator faced with patching the patch because someone forgot Hyper-V was a thing. Just via the medium of an expense claim.

"Apparently," Snover told us, "my timing is really bad as the company is supposed to be rolling out a new Expense tool any minute now."

Still, Microsoft isn't alone. This hack well remembers being behind the corporate barricades and playing the "pick a cost centre" game on a system that refused to run on anything other than Internet Explorer 8. Happy days.

Is it just us and Snover? Perhaps take a bit of satisfaction in knowing that even if Microsoft's financial results are way up, delight with some of its internal systems seems way down.

Oh, and leave us a comment on the byzantine methods your beancounters have employed to avoid coughing up for that late-night pizza. ®

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