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Saturday January 25, 2020
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Stupid Client Quote #6019

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DexX | posted 03-19-2008 | Number of Votes: 45  |  Current Rating: 3.85   

In my temping days I worked for an amazing government department that I privately referred to as a "government disorganisation". Anyone who has ever worked for a big department in any IT capacity will know that their computer systems tend to be cobbled together over the course of decades into a Frankenstein's monster-like abomination. Well, this one was the worst I have ever seen.

First of all, the HR section had their own system, for payroll and the like, including its own database. Next there was the network ID system, which controlled your login, also with its own database. Then there was the Lotus system, for email and database access - yes, it also had its own database. Getting the idea? There was also the helpdesk system, so employees could lodge helpdesk requests - yup, it's own database - and finally the groups system, which controlled which subdomains you had access to, which network drive was your default, and which corporate emails you were sent. That's five basic systems, all with their own databases... and it gets worse.

The HR and Lotus systems also had "extended service" systems - once again with their own databases. I never worked out what these actually did, and I was working in helpdesk for three months. Above all of this was the system that was supposed to tie it all together. Whoops, did I say "system"? I meant _systems_ - one that recorded current status, and one that recorded changes to status. We're now at seven individual systems, each with their own support teams, interface software, and stand-alone databases.

But wait, there's more... This was a state department, and the whole of the state government had its own people directory that tracked people coming and going from various departments around the state. This directory was made up of two systems as well - a storage system and a change-tracking system.

Nine systems, nine databases... and they wouldn't talk to each other properly. New starters in the department being loaded onto the system for the first time had a 20-25% failure rate. If ten new people started in a week, two or three of them were guaranteed to stick in the system, need to be deleted, and then re-entered from scratch.

Even worse, there was a bizarre hierarchy in the systems, so changes in one might communicate weirdly to another. One common one was that people were being created twice in payroll. Another was that a change in one system would promptly be overwritten by the old data in another system at particular times of day.

Like I said, three months into a six month assignment, I gave my notice and left. It was the single worst computer system I have ever encountered.

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