A blog for odd things and odd thoughts.

Anti-Pattern: Report Proliferation

Here is software anti-pattern I have seen many times in my career. It is somewhat related to this earlier one.

The steps are:

  • Development produce a quick report showing business operations progress – e.g. a list of all sales transactions.
  • The business folks are elated. This is an artifact from development that the business folks understand. This is a feature they can use. This is going to be hugely helpful in making informed decisions.
  • Well, it would be, if we added another column.
  • And grouped it by financial quarter.
  • And linked revenue to the ad-spend.
  • Let’s add one more column, and put the negative numbers in red.
  • It needs to be generated on-demand, and offer the option to filter by country.
  • … and time-period

A large part of the development budget ends up being spent on tweaking reports and strangely, it is never quite adequate to make informed decisions.

I think the root cause is a conflict of interest: the person in charge of the money is spending it on features that help themselves, not features that will make the customer happier and cause an uptick on the very graphs they are obsessing over.

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