• RaceProUK (disco)

    A clbuttic lesson in "Use The Right Tool For The Job" :smile:

  • Nprz (disco)

    Ugh, what they started with was good enough and most likely not a money/time sink. Wtf were they thinking trying to automate that. Maybe add a web service to upload the results to pull in for previous year comparisons (likely don't need to redo sums on excel sheets there).

    More like a classic example of consultants not getting real requirements from the users.

  • RFoxmich (disco)

    It's new, it's high tech, it was built by expensive consultants. It's so much better that anything we've ever had before.

  • leus (disco)

    As I always have (unironically) said, Excel is the most awesome piece of software ever written.

  • Weng (disco)

    As a student, we had a project exercise very similar to this. Company that does data collection, analysis and reporting. All done with a hodgepodge of Excel and Word and emailing to administrative assistants and such.

    Basically we were split into pairs to act as consultants on a "modernization" of the process.

    After much information gathering and Deep Thought(TM), my team's recommendation was "Don't touch it. There's no ROI." Every other team in the class failed to miss that obvious bit of information (or was too inexperienced and overconfident with the magickal powerz of computers)

  • DocMonster (disco) in reply to Weng

    ROI or not that sounds like it would be a really inefficient way to do anything. Which is really part of the problem because people do stuff in stupid ways and it's just good enough that they don't want to improve it to make it less clunky .

  • machtyn (disco) in reply to Weng

    ...and emailing to administrative assistants and such.

    Well that seems to be a point to modernize. If they're passing information around by email, it means a lot of eyes are copy/pasting information. With the little be of information given, I would think having a server hold the data to prevent duplication would be a nice feature. Granted, like the story, the computer to human layer doesn't really need any adjusting.

  • DCRoss (disco)

    To make the techs "lives easier, the consultants built several Excel spreadsheets

    It is hard to tell which formatting error is the right one. Did the spreadsheets make the many techs` lives all easier, or do the techs have some things which could be called "lives" which were made easier?

  • wft (disco)

    The :wtf: of it was that you had to do a measurement and type it into your PDA which is really a fancy and inconvenient logbook which also lacks free-form data entry humans like so much and needs to be always-online to even work (seriously, couldn't they fill data in offline and sync later? What prevented them from making the PDA app in a way that you don't have to give a fuck about online/offline?).

    The sensors should have been connected in the first place, sending data to the pda. The pda should have been robust enough to figure what it was and where it took place (GPS?). Otherwise, it's still damn human factor to reckon with.

  • blakeyrat (disco) in reply to Weng
    Weng:
    As a student, we had a project exercise very similar to this. Company that does data collection, analysis and reporting. All done with a hodgepodge of Excel and Word and emailing to administrative assistants and such.
    Weng:
    After much information gathering and Deep Thought(TM), my team's recommendation was "Don't touch it. There's no ROI."

    You should have at least recommended replacing the "emailing" with a ticketing system capable of emailing. As-described, your process can be sent to shit if only a single administrative assistant doesn't check their email for a few days (for whatever reason) or accidentally hits "Delete" twice instead of once.

  • Weng (disco) in reply to blakeyrat

    Students. At that point process improvement seemed to be a binary "what you have is good enough" or "replace everything!" affair.

    And email seemed like a perfectly reasonable way for humans to communicate.

  • foxyshadis (disco) in reply to blakeyrat
    blakeyrat:
    Weng:
    After much information gathering and Deep Thought(TM), my team's recommendation was "Don't touch it. There's no ROI."

    You should have at least recommended replacing the "emailing" with a ticketing system capable of emailing. As-described, your process can be sent to shit if only a single administrative assistant doesn't check their email for a few days (for whatever reason) or accidentally hits "Delete" twice instead of once.

    Meh, it's not like a ticketing system can fix human failure, all it can do is annoy the idiots who need it enough that they avoid it. I'm assuming the existing emailing is already automated via VBA, so going up to a central server is another magnitude in complexity and management.

  • blakeyrat (disco) in reply to Weng
    Comment held for moderation.
  • tar (disco) in reply to blakeyrat
    Comment held for moderation.
  • sloosecannon (disco)

    It sounds like the problem here is that they're not sharing the data correctly. They're probably not secure either. They need more backups. Also, excel is a terrible format. Everything should be plaintext.

    :trolleybus: :trolleybus: :palm_tree: :palm_tree: :palm_tree: :sweet_potato:

    Filed Under: :palm_tree: and :sweet_potato: is the closest I could find to "swamp"

  • kupfernigk (disco) in reply to DocMonster
    DocMonster:
    people do stuff in stupid ways and it's just good enough that they don't want to improve it to make it less clunky .

    And that describes the 99% of the human race that, but for the other 1%, would be thinking "catching food with a stick was good enough for dad, it's good enough for me".

    Sometimes there is no apparent ROI until you've done the project, productivity improves and what's more you have a saleable product. There are very few businesses that really are not potentially capable of improvement. Sometimes, even, consultants come up with workable ideas. The one thing we can be sure of is that there is no hall of fame for bean counters, whereas many, many people have heard of Edison.

  • dkf (disco) in reply to kupfernigk
    kupfernigk:
    there is no hall of fame for bean counters

    There probably is, but none of us have ever heard of it. :D

  • PWolff (disco) in reply to sloosecannon
    sloosecannon:
    Everything should be plaintext.

    Plaintext is not enterprisey enough. Unless processed by some software written with an enterprisey environment and printed in an OCR font.

    dkf:
    There probably is, but none of us have ever heard of it.

    There definitively will be very soon. They'll start to build it as soon as they've agreed on which of the 42 available shades of white the walls shall be painted with.

  • Planar (disco) in reply to kupfernigk
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Watson (disco) in reply to DCRoss
    DCRoss:
    do the techs have some things which could be called "lives" which were made easier?
    Everyone knows techs don't have lives.
  • Watson (disco) in reply to Planar
    Planar:
    Yes it's true, the bean counters were at the cutting edge of technology (about 5000 years ago...)
    Chartered Accountant is the second oldest profession.
  • kupfernigk (disco) in reply to Planar
    Planar:
    Yes it's true, the bean counters were at the cutting edge of technology (about 5000 years ago...)

    Yes, I'm familiar with the argument that crop and asset recording was essential to early civilisations. But, as was pointed out by Scientific American years ago, the people who invented those systems, clay tablets and all, were information technologists, not accountants. The people who recorded the data were book-keepers, also not accountants. And the people who calculated how much grain to store and how much to distribute were economists. Management accountants only appeared when businesses were expected to pay taxes and wages and make profits, and early centralised societies basically did not do those things. They didn't have ROI, they had "do we have enough food for the winter". [edit - I guess that after the two oldest professions, this means that IT came next, followed by economists, followed by journalists writing articles like "We do a head to head between the Assyrian Mk. X clay tablet stylus and the new double ended stylus from Nineveh Systems, and the result will surprise you."]

  • Yo_Yehudi (disco)

    As someone doing a research project on smooth online/offline transitioning in rural/low network areas... is there a way to de-anonymise this / link to a genuine case study? :smile:

  • Steve_The_Cynic (disco)

    The one thing that bothered me about this is that they relied on a bunch of heavy-weight VBA-with-XML to link the spreadsheets and documents to the server data. Both Excel and Word have been able to do this without VBA since before VBA even existed. Who else besides me remembers Dynamic Data Exchange, more commonly called DDE? One of the selling points of the DDE capabilities was that you could link spreadsheets to data sources.

    (OK, I never used this for anything serious. I'd also note that there are probably readers here who aren't as old as DDE and its immediate successor OLE... And I don't remember if you could use it to feed data back to the server. It's been a while since I looked at what you could do with it.)

  • OffByOne (disco) in reply to Steve_The_Cynic
    Steve_The_Cynic:
    And I don't remember if you could use it to feed data *back* to the server. It's been a while since I looked at what you could do with it.

    Trigger warning: Wild butt guesses, assumptions

    mIRC could be set up as a DDE server, so I guess/assume a DDE connection is bidirectional.

  • Steve_The_Cynic (disco) in reply to OffByOne
    OffByOne:
    Trigger warning: Wild butt guesses, assumptions

    mIRC could be set up as a DDE server, so I guess/assume a DDE connection is bidirectional.

    When I said, "It's been a while," I was thinking more along the lines of ***decades***...
  • OffByOne (disco) in reply to Steve_The_Cynic
    Steve_The_Cynic:
    When I said, "It's been a while," I was thinking more along the lines of ***decades***...

    Sounds about right. I used mIRC roughly between 1996 and 1999, which qualifies as decades ago (if you round-to-nearest decade, at least).

  • YellowOnline (disco) in reply to kupfernigk

    As a consultant, I feel my job is not so much different from the oldest profession in the world...

  • Buddy (disco) in reply to Weng

    You got a F for that, right?

    Filed under: Professors

  • Luhmann (disco) in reply to YellowOnline

    Oh shut up and do what you are paid for already!

  • Steve_The_Cynic (disco) in reply to OffByOne
    OffByOne:
    Sounds about right. I used mIRC roughly between 1996 and 1999, which qualifies as decades ago (if you round-to-nearest decade, at least).
    That thing about rounding reminds me of something my high school physics teacher said once: "I can tell you your height to the nearest thousandth." Most of us thought that was pretty cool, until he picked out a student and said, "You are ..." squints "... one thousandth of a mile tall." Turns out that when you include the normal rounding range around 0.001 miles (i.e. [0.0005,0.0015) miles), you take in almost every adult on the planet, and certainly all the people in that classroom. Only children and contenders for "tallest man" or "shortest adult human" fall outside the range 2.64 feet to 7.92 feet...
  • Planar (disco) in reply to kupfernigk
    kupfernigk:
    [edit - I guess that after the two oldest professions, this means that IT came next, followed by economists, followed by journalists writing articles like "We do a head to head between the Assyrian Mk. X clay tablet stylus and the new double ended stylus from Nineveh Systems, and the result will surprise you."]

    I'm willing to bet that the third profession was really tax collector.

  • kupfernigk (disco) in reply to Planar
    Planar:
    I'm willing to bet that the third profession was really tax collector.

    Tax collector is not a profession. Strictly, nor is prostitution. To be a profession, you need a recognised body of your peers that awards qualifications, and an educational body that provides or supervises training. The way this works for, say, the Army or the Navy is well known, as it is for the IEE, the ICE and so on. In the UK we have the BCS (British Computer Society) for information systems.

    YellowOnline:
    As a consultant, I feel my job is not so much different from the oldest profession in the world...

    I presume you allude to the "You have something, you sell it to people, you've still got it afterwards"? That is a fairly good definition of a profession, though. Professionals sell expertise. The problem with prostitution is that there is no generally accepted measure of expertise and no certifying body. Mind you, there is the same problem with some areas of business consulting.

  • dkf (disco) in reply to kupfernigk
    kupfernigk:
    prostitution
    kupfernigk:
    certifying body

    :giggity:

  • kupfernigk (disco) in reply to dkf
    Comment held for moderation.
  • dkf (disco) in reply to kupfernigk
    kupfernigk:
    Is it really necessary to spell out my little jokes for people?

    Round here? Yes. ;)

  • tar (disco) in reply to kupfernigk
    kupfernigk:
    It takes all the fun out of making them and seeing if anyone notices.

    At least one person noticed, I would guess...

  • kupfernigk (disco) in reply to Weng
    Weng:
    After much information gathering and Deep Thought(TM), my team's recommendation was "Don't touch it. There's no ROI."

    I have to say that in my experience accountants are terrible at estimating ROI. The worst case I've ever seen was good old office printing, where the accountants work out the cost per page, the lease costs and so on and end up concluding that some vast machine at one end of the floor is the optimal solution, because they never factor in the sheer amount of time people spend walking to and from it and hanging around it to pick up work. In the same way they continue to buy Word and never consider whether most of the print being produced actually needs the level of formatting it gets, or the sheer number of man hours wasted as someone pixel-places something on a letter which will get a cursory glance before binning.

    A real focus on office work ROI would, I suspect, reveal an awful lot of middle class jobs just to be makework, and cause a sudden sharp decline in Microsoft income. Remember how the Ribbon and Windows 8 made everybody more productive?

  • FrostCat (disco) in reply to kupfernigk
    kupfernigk:
    Remember how the Ribbon and Windows 8 made everybody more productive?

    How many hardcore Office users do you know? The ones I'm aware of, which I will admit is not a large set, all like the Ribbon (because they say it's easier to find stuff.)

  • Planar (disco) in reply to kupfernigk
    kupfernigk:
    Tax collector is not a profession. Strictly, nor is prostitution. To be a profession, you need a recognised body of your peers that awards qualifications, [...]

    According to Cambridge dictionaries online, you're a Brit.

  • kupfernigk (disco) in reply to Planar
    Planar:
    According to Cambridge dictionaries online, you're a Brit.

    Is that an accusation, or some kind of stalking threat?

  • hungrier (disco) in reply to FrostCat

    I wouldn't consider myself a hardcore Office user but after getting used to the ribbon, I like it way better.

  • Scarlet_Manuka (disco) in reply to hungrier

    I would consider myself a hardcore Excel user (as I write I have 10 Excel workbooks open, which is about normal for me), and now that I have gotten used to the ribbon, and have set up a bunch of extra shortcuts on the Quick Access toolbar, it only slows me down a bit compared to the pre-ribbon UI (where all the shortcuts I used regularly were visible all the time).

    I suppose I should go ahead and stick half a dozen more shortcuts on the Quick Access toolbar so that I only have to change Ribbon tabs when I'm doing stuff that I don't do frequently.

    Changing Ribbon tabs is an annoyance that does slow down my workflow somewhat, but not important enough an issue to gripe about. By far the biggest time killer with the Ribbon UI is when you're looking for something and it's not on the tab you expect it to be on, so you have to hunt through various tabs to find it. I get bitten by this regularly in Word, where I keep looking in the Insert tab for things like inserting a footnote or a table of contents, rather than on the References tab.

    Hint to people building a ribbon-like UI: if an action could reasonably be looked for in multiple tabs, add it to multiple tabs. For instance, Excel has sort and filter options on the Home tab, and also on the Data tab. (Granted, the Data tab ones are more configurable, not exact duplicates of the ones on the Home tab.)

  • HardwareGeek (disco) in reply to Scarlet_Manuka
    Scarlet_Manuka:
    I keep looking in the Insert tab for things like inserting a footnote or a table of contents, rather than on the References tab.

    +1

  • VRB (disco)

    what about these ideas to fix the bridge?

    1. Field-Test Fix:
      a) Provide an offline cached mode, that will automatically submit when the connection is available. b) Provide an IoT device that connects to the PDA/SmartPhone to do the electronic tests.

    2. Lab-Test Fix: a) How about embedded Excel on the web? b) Or Excel format download, upload features for the analysts.

    3. Reporting Fix: There must be a lot of options here... a) PowerPivot on the web b) With SSRS, Crystal, etc. or any of the other great reporting tools

    ps: Not sure how necessary is the throne that pdf's are even given today. It's like making water expensive to buy, hard to find, can only, see, touch, smell, dip your finger - in a glass of water, but can't drink it !!, unless you buy a different glass.

  • dkf (disco) in reply to Scarlet_Manuka
    Scarlet_Manuka:
    By far the biggest time killer with the Ribbon UI is when you're looking for something and it's not on the tab you expect it to be on, so you have to hunt through various tabs to find it.

    The thing that annoys me a lot is when the set of ribbon tabs changes according to what you've got selected. Accidentally tap on the background of that presentation? Good luck finding that the image editing feature you were looking for even exists! Hit the text instead? Watch those tabs lurch over as a different width of tab name shuffles into place.

    I liked the old style where I could lock some things in view in other parts of the working window so that my tools would always be in the same place. Yes, they'd be greyed out a lot of the time — that's OK — but when I wanted them, I'd be able to know instantly where they were. The ribbon's annoying because it's like someone else keeps coming along and sorting your toolbox from time to time, removing the things that you're perhaps not about to need (except you are going to want it in a few moments anyway).

  • Scarlet_Manuka (disco) in reply to dkf
    dkf:
    The thing that annoys me a lot is when the set of ribbon tabs changes according to what you've got selected.
    I more or less break even on that - sometimes it does a good job of giving me access to the thing I need, sometimes it takes it away. Blessed be the name of the Ribbon.

    Actually the real time-killer and :facepalm: with the Ribbon is trying to explain to my wife how to do something... and yes, this was painful before, too, but at least there were typically fewer steps to talk her through.

  • OffByOne (disco) in reply to VRB
    VRB:
    b) With SSRS, Crystal, etc. or any of the other great reporting tools

    First parsed as SpectateSwamp Report Search. It made sense at first glance :facepalm:

  • Planar (disco) in reply to kupfernigk
    kupfernigk:
    Is that an accusation, or some kind of stalking threat?

    I'll go with accusation.

  • boomzilla (disco) in reply to Scarlet_Manuka
    Scarlet_Manuka:
    I would consider myself a hardcore Excel user

    If you truly were, you'd be using mostly keyboard shortcuts.

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