Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Head Cold

Someone thoughtfully shared their head cold with me and I've now felt continuously hung over for a week, without ever having abided in any spirits (which was rough for that Bengals game; seriously Marvin, can't you get that friggin' team to show up and be ready to play for at least one important game?).
I saw some blurb about ABBA getting back together, and I know that I've waxed post-nostalgic about them before (they were slightly before my time).  I should point out though that a couple years ago the act Goldfrapp put out an album that's (intentionally) very reminiscent of that sound:

For fans of videos made in the early eighties, be sure to check out the videos that they made out of other tracks off the same album, somewhat amusing:
So "if you like your health insurance you can keep it"...
I'm surprised the Big Zero didn't state the obvious in defense of his lie: "who really liked their health insurance to begin with?"  No doubt these would be the same people who enjoy trips to the dentist. 

No one, I think, likes health insurance but the American health care system is so goofed that people are trapped and unable to escape the system.  It goes without saying that ObamaNotCare makes all this worse and makes health insurance even more unlikeable, so maybe that defense wouldn't work in the end. 

Now the financial mess of this is all fun and a further (giant) nail in the coffin for inevitable day of reckoning when there is a smoking crater where the U.S. Federal Reserve notes used to be; however, the true fun for me is the brutal, unholy, IT project failure that this has worked out to be.

Being in IT I've developed a bit of a fetish of reading up on IT project failures, which would include almost any large business project initiative since it would undoubtedly include IT components.  For instance here's a well known bungle where Lumber Liquidators took a big earnings hit because of an SAP implementation:
Lumber Liquidators problems arose because, apparently, the company did not anticipate the difficulty employees would have transitioning from the old system to SAP. Poor training is a common obstacle on enterprise implementations of this type.

That's ripe.  I've seen enough of this from the inside out to know that poor "training" is always a good scape goat ("last on the project, first to get cut" as I'd read elsewhere), but a failure of this magnitude will no doubt run the whole gambit of poor management, poor software, and (especially) wretchedly poor and no doubt corrupt consulting services.  As another example, here's a fun story about a jewelry retailer that went out of business due to an ERP implementation (SAP again).

As it turns out I'm a party to an IT project imbroglio of mega proportions at this very moment.  One of my company's larger customers wants to consolidate all of their accounting functions across their disparate divisions, plants, etc. from around the world and have their vendors use an electronic method to integrate in with the system in order to save everyone time and money.  This customer is very late in paying invoices and part of the problem is that they will fax POs from Europe to our plant in America for a product that's to be shipped to Mexico.  We send the invoice to Europe, and how they square that up with Mexico is anyone's guess; and judging from how our customer operates, they apparently didn't know either.

Sooooo anyway, this customer sits on us and says that we have to go live with this back in February.  So we dutifully go through the motions, but it turns out that, the customer, wasn't even ready to trade data over the system until July.  It was at this point that the customer discovered that their method for implementing the package was goofed (for reasons I actually foresaw, but won't get into right now).  Point being, this is an organization that:
  • has on hand, in disparate systems, all the inputs and outputs that they need for the new system.  The integration is sure to be rough but all the 'buckets' already exist.
  • is affiliated with at least one, and probably several other, large tech companies (and is in many ways regarded as a tech company itself).
  • has a real, solid economic incentive to get this project up and running and into the review process.
  • still hasn't gone live with the implementation by the middle of November when the goal was to have people on it in February!
So to look at none of those first three bullet points are true for that project; yet, they said that it would be fixed by the end of November?!?  They then make the same idiotic mistakes of throwing people at the project (which has the ironic effect of slowing a doomed project down further) and setting arbitrary deadlines that have nothing to do with what the project has to get done. Then there's the army of contractors, and sub-contractors (sub-sub-contractors), and government non-busy bodies and this thing has devolved from a project with an actual completion date to an industry all unto it's own.
Just came by a story that the city of Desert Hot Springs in California is contemplating bankruptcy.  This story is interesting because the city is working off bonds from a bankruptcy back in 2001.  That bankruptcy was the result of a court decision against the city to the tune of $3,000,000 (population ~26,000) for violating the so called 'fair housing act'.  It turns out the developer had gotten government goodies aplenty to build low income housing in Desert Hot Springs, but the city council had (understandably) voted it down.  When did this situation first start out?  1990.  Uncle Sam has been sick in the head a long time.