How to make the worst of software changeovers

[box]James Humphries[/box]

Hello, and welcome to the 2011/12 edition of Bureaucracy and You, your one-stop shop for maximising inefficiency, alienation and teeth-grinding rage among your consumers. In this simple and easy-to-follow guide, we use real-life examples to take you through methods guaranteed to double or even treble the number of consumers who want to rip your head off and shit down your neck, and all at no extra cost to you!

Disclaimer: BaY makes no guarantees.
Actual cost may be up to £14 million.

Case Study – Glasgow University: How To Make the Worst of Software Changeovers

1. A lot of groundwork is involved in making what should be a utilitarian and practical exercise fraught with anger and bad feeling – even something as apparently minor as giving responsibility for overseeing the “upgrade” to an ex-student president can work wonders for engendering distrust amongst your consumer body. Be creative, but don’t be afraid of classics like “jobs for the boys” and “pointless, baffling expenditure”.

2. On no account should you listen to overwhelming anecdotal and professional evidence that the company engaged to provide, say, “MyCampus”, has a track record of fouling up and providing little-to-nil customer support. What, after all, do mere IT geeks know about software? Similarly, bear in mind that student-consumers are notoriously fickle types who’ll moan about anything from £9k fees to misogynistic, lying “representatives”; if you really want to succeed as an alienating bureaucracy, you’ve got to get the staff-consumers good and irate as well.

3. The mark of a good bureaucracy is its ability to spend money like it’s going out of style. Throw good money after bad, bad money after good, and your hands in the air like you just don’t care.

3.1. Advanced Bureaucratic Combat (the “Muscatelli Corollary”): For best effect, spend millions rearranging deckchairs on the MyCampus Titanic whilst at the same time announcing swingeing course and job cuts. Profess not to see anything contradictory about this: the measure of a Russell Group university is not the number and quality of the courses it offers, after all, but the indecipherability of its administrative software.

4. You should now have a non-functioning system, an overwhelmed (or determinedly unsupportive) support team, and thousands upon thousands of student-consumers whose emotional states range from “really quite unhappy” to “foetal with distress” (advanced variation: the system is so obtuse and badly-laid out that those whose first language is not English, or who have limited vision, literally cannot use it). Express the feeling that the problem lies not with the software, but with the consumers. Many bureaucrats would consider their work to be done by this point; but at BaY, excellence is our watchword.

Disclaimer: BaY may or may not actually have a watchword. Any and all requests for clarification should be directed somewhere else.

5. After several months of non-functionality, calls for explanation and resolution may become too loud to simply ignore any longer. Other, lesser guides would recommend that you take their needs and suggestions on board; but BaY says fuck those guides, they’re probably written by embittered consumers or something, and if you gave a damn about accountability or responsiveness, you’d have listened to the students and staff in the first place. The absolute utmost you should do is to make token patronising noises about “lessons learned”, but only if it is made patently obvious that you have in fact learned nothing.

5.1. Adding Insult to Injury (the “Lowther Corollary”): If you feel like your bureaucratic voyage doesn’t have quite enough anus-inverting absurdity yet, send your consumers an email acknowledging (without taking any shadow of responsibility) that the system has failed to do what it was supposed to; suggest that they should alleviate their petty and childish “budgeting concerns” by giving you more money. The smarmier the tone, the more effective the email.

6. If all else fails, and your position can simply no longer be tenned, you may want to consider the “Ritchie Manoeuvre”: quit, take the money, and blame it all on those pesky hippies.

Disclaimer: At time of going to print, the above procedure may be better known as the “Muscatelli Manoeuvre”. … well, shit, you can’t blame a guy for hoping.


For comments and discussion on this article, see the page for our MyCampus December feature.


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