Hark! Babbage is spinning in his grave

Sometimes I find the people I work with can be alarmingly illogical. At the risk of sounding like a pointy-eared Vulcan, what are they thinking?!

An example of a conversation I had a while ago….

Me: Hello. I understand you need us to develop a module in the computer system to record assets and manage planned maintenance?

User: Yes, we want the system to warn us when something is due to be serviced or if it has recently been repaired with a service so we don’t duplicate the work.

Me: OK. Where do you have this information at the moment?

User: In a spreadsheet.

Me (suppressing anxiety): OK, so we need to get that data into the main system, and design some screens so you can update it. Then it will hold all the information in one place.

User: Oh no, we don’t want to type into the main system.

Me (suppressing increasing anxiety): Well, if you don’t put it into the main system it can’t produce the warning.

User: We don’t like using the main system. It’s too hard!

Me (wheedling): But we’ll design it with you so you can use it easily….

User: No, it’s too hard.

Me (firmly): Then I can’t get it to give you the information. I’m sorry, it’s just not possible.

User: OK, we’ll just type in the ones that have the warning on them.

Me: ….

User: What?

Me (slowly): If you already know which ones have a warning – why do you want me to design a system to tell you?

User: Is that a problem?

In the words of the great Charles Babbage “On two occasions I have been asked, ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’ I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.