If you don’t know who Rodney Dangerfield is, you’re missing out. Long story short: he was a great comedian who told jokes detailing how he is continually disrespected. Now, my life is nowhere near a bad as the life of Dangerfield’s characters. But, man, it feels like it some days.
I work for a local government agency as a Senior IT Analyst. We used to be a team of four people, but we’re down to me, and one Project Manager converted to a … I’m not sure what. I think his title may be Business Analyst. I don’t know to be honest. But he helps me as a tester and handle some routing maintenance on some web stuff.
One application that I maintain is an employee evaluation system. It is created using the very expensive K2 platform that we purchased because apparently K2 rates high on Gartner’s magic quadrant. We have many systems that rate high. They all suck.
When we purchased K2, I and the team lead (at that time) were sent to some training classes. After the classes we were all excited to create some K2 applications. Literally the week after we completed these classes, our section manager (our supervisor’s supervisor) attended one of our weekly stand-ups and gleefully announced that we’d signed a contract with a consulting company that will be creating the evaluation system application. I ask why we hired the consultant when we’d just been to training and I was told that we always use consultants in case the actual employees don’t stick around.
Reminder: I work for a local government agency. Half the people here are employees because they are not able to get real jobs in the private sector. Where else would they go. NO ONE ever leaves here voluntarily. So why on earth would the manager suspect that we would not last? Most likely, the manager has experience with the staff not being able to create the applications.
Sadly, this happens with EVERY tool we purchase: OnBase, CivicPlus, PowerBI and others. We attend training and then the supervisor and manager hire consultants to do the bulk of the work and develop applications. These are EXPENSIVE consultants who do mediocre work. When I point out errors that they make, my supervisor looks away sheepishly knowing that my agency is literally wasting taxpayer dollars for no real reason.
Most recently, COVID-19 forced most of the employees to work from home. We’ve been “sheltering in place” for eight weeks as I write this. In that time, other employee’s evaluations have come due. Some of those evaluations are needed for merit raises. So they MUST get done. One thing that is required is a signature on the evaluations. Enter Adobe Sign.
When reviewing the requirements for integrating K2 and Adobe Sign, I ran into a new hurdle (for me): OAuth in K2. On Thursday I mentioned to the Manager that it would take me a few days to get that working. On Friday morning a Sr ITA from another team sent out an email announcing that he was taking over the OAuth integration part of this project as requested by the Manager. I asked the supervisor about this announcement and he was as surprised about this as I was.
This other Sr. ITA is a disaster. His effect on computer systems reminds me of Charlie Brown’s friend Pig Pen around a sterile environment. Everything he touches goes to shit before he eventually gets things working. At least I think he does. He’s not actually fixed any of the things he’s broken. But he’s close. Or so he says at the stand-up meetings.
I mentioned this to my supervisor and he laughed because he knew that I was right. Still, the Manager thinks the other Sr. ITA walks on water. I have no idea why. So he’s in charge for now.
“Have at it,” I mutter to myself.
Having raised my concerns to my manager, I let the other guy take the lead. I on the other hand started looking at the API information from Adobe Sign. In about one week, I managed to get a web service running that will fulfill the needs of our project. I then slap a UI on this using MVC, which is a framework that I have limited experience with. So I took advantage of some time to learn some new skills.
Two weeks later, the OAuth piece is not working yet and the Manager is getting worried. It seems that he promised the Department Head that this would be an easy project to finish.
So I emailed the team and informed them that I’d put together a Web Service that can be used by ANY of our applications to send documents over to Adobe Sign for e-signing. I demo’d my App and the silence was deafening. My supervisor and Manager didn’t understand that I’d written something from scratch in C# and produced something much more useful than the single-function solution the other guy was still many steps away from beginning to develop.
“Well, let’s see if we can get the K2 solution working,” said the Manager.
I went back to work on K2 and took over from the other Sr. ITA. I managed to get that application finished in a couple of days. I gave another Demo and more deafening silence.
“That’s it? You just click the button?” asked the Manager.
“That’s what you wanted: seamless integration,” I answered.
“But it doesn’t DO anything,” he responded.
“It sends the evaluation our for e-Signature using Adobe Sign. That’s what the requirement is. That’s what I’ve given you. Seamlessly.”
So today, the original, expensive developer of the evaluation app emails us stating that they have created their own K2 plug-in and are willing to sell it to us if we’re still interested (the Supervisor had tipped off the consultant about this project at some point). Of course my supervisor replies:
“Great! Let’s set up a demo to see if we can integrate your solution soon.”
Again, this despite TWO different solution having been shown to the supervisor and manager leaving them slack-jawed and dumbfounded.
But the best part: when I asked the supervisor when I can push the changes from our DEV environment to our STAGING environment, he replies
“Let’s pump the brakes. We don’t actually have permission to move forward on this project. The Department Head had simply made a statement regarding how cool it would be for this to be seamlessly integrated with K2. Turns out the Manager doesn’t have budget for this and an actual requirement from any of the application stakeholders.”
Six weeks of developer time wasted. Kind of.
Most people would have sought a different opportunity by now. But I’m old (55+) and can use the regular hours (8 AM – 5 PM, 5 days / week) since I’m busy with other things (have a look around this website). Plus, if I can stick it out for another 5 years, I’ll have half-a-pension in my pocket. Damn, I hate a steady, usually, un-challenging job.
So I’ll continue garnering no respect. And cashing the paychecks. Could be worse.