True Domino Blooper #23: A case of the course confirmation blahs

This systems admin was more than reluctant to take on a development project handed to him by a boss who was still wet behind the ears. Find out what happens when a cross-eyed, butter-fingered project manager accepts the hand off.

I am normally a systems administrator, but I knew a little about development five years ago, even though I didn't like working on development projects. Being a consultant, I had just returned from a year-long engagement out of town. When I returned to the office, I was told that there were no projects lined up for me, so I was given some internal projects. A brand-new, young senior manager asked me to work on an internal educational tracking database for our company's use.

With this new database, every employee would be required to go to an internal project management class. The manager wanted a database for employees to use for class registration. The registration process would automatically waitlist employees if there was no room in the class. As openings popped up -- if an employee cancelled before the course -- another employee would automatically move off the waitlist. This application would also send confirmations every step of the way, including a functionality that would give the instructor a chance to check for attendance. It also would send a "completion confirmation" e-mail to those who completed the course.

I tried to do everything to get out of doing this development project, but the manager was set on having me do it. I even found another internal project that more closely matched my skills, but my young, inexperienced manager wanted to prove a point.

Forced to build this application, I got all of the framework in place. All of the functionality worked fine, and I created most of the confirmation text, leaving blank the areas of which I wasn't sure. For example, the reminder confirmation said, "This is just a reminder that you are registered for the XXXX course on XXXXX." The completion confirmation said, "Congratulations for completing the XXXX course, blah blah blah blah." (I was waiting to get the exact text from the project manager.)

Then a miracle happened (in my mind, anyway). Although I was almost done with the project, I managed to find a billable project for myself that was going to have me occupied for the next two years. So off I went, and I turned this database back over to the product manager to complete. The courses started, and the employees used this program to register. Everything was working like a charm. People were impressed by the waiting list functionality and the reminders, which had their agents at this time signed by the project manager. His Notes ID name was all over the place. I was, of course, off doing my own thing in a different state.

Well, everything worked fine, and the first group, which consisted of mostly partners and executive leaders in the company, attended the course. And when they completed the course, the instructor selected their names and sent them the completion confirmation. They got an e-mail signed by the project manager that said, "Congratulations for completing the XXXX course, blah blah blah blah."


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 Every story in our bloopers series comes to us directly from a SearchDomino.com administrator, developer or consultant. For obvious reasons, some contributors -- including this tale's author -- choose to remain anonymous.


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This was first published in July 2003

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