So after a few years of reading thedailywtf I'm at the point of contributing something.
The setting is the school system in the capital of a important european country.
After a few decades of "Do-Your-Own-Network" and "Use-The-Software-You-Want" in all city schools, the local government decided to commence a project to standardize hard- and software. It the beginning, it sounded fairly good - all schools should (at last) get state-of-the-art PCs, servers and networking components, they got a couple of headmasters together to ask them what they needed and how they were doing their
stuff and took all these specifications together to get a bidding from different software manufacturers.
They didn't ask less then a system that could manage all student data beginning from name and address, going on with their school career, all grades, reports, forms etc. to calculating the degree grades in the end, course scheduling, teacher scheduling and so on.
They expected some big-shot companies to bid. Then they found out, that none such software existed, that would fulfill all specifications. Solution: they bought TWO DIFFERENT programs, one of which would have to be heavily adapted. One to do the database stuff (student names, grades, passes and fails, course enrollments, teacher names and addresses, forms and reports - in the following named "Columbus") and ANOTHER ONE, which should do the scheduling based on the data of the first one
(which is named let's say "Schedulis"). Well, Schedulis has been on the scene for 20 years, good piece of software for managing timetables / schedules, but not good for managing student data.
Footnote: "Good Old Software", which most of the capitals schools are using wasn't part of the bidding process, because the company was to small (1-2 Programmers). Well, as it turned out, the company selling Columbus has got ... two programmers.
Small problem with selecting two different software packages:
the two use entirely different data structures. No problem: data can be transferred between them via ... Tada! ASCII Files.
School administration now is really far easier than before.
Let's say, one of the school administrators wants to plan the schedule for the next year. With the new solution we need only a couple of easy steps.
1. Secondary school administrator (SSA) takes student selections and determines, how many courses will be needed (Columbus)
2. Headmaster says which teacher will take which courses / classes (wooden table)
3. SSA inputs data into Columbus and exports ASCII File.
4. Deputy Headmaster (DH, who is responsible for the schedules) imports data into Schedulis and runs an optimization to assign students to courses based on all their course selections.
5. DH exports data (ASCII).
6. SSA imports data in Columbus and sees courses, students and teachers.
7. DH plans rest of schedule in Schedulis.
If something needs to be changed in both databases (Teacher doing the course, student taking the course), please change in one of the two databases AND RE-EXPORT / RE-IMPORT. *sarcasm*: No we don't think that any problems doing this a few times...
That's what we need new software for. The "Good Old Software" we still use does most of this in one environment, even when two SSAs were planning to different student years at the same time... and by the way Good Old Software also has got all the reports we need and prints them nicely. In the training, one of the trainers told us: "If you can, get a
copy of Crystal Reports yourself. The software will not be able to print all the reports you need in the beginning - and if you wait for The-IT-People-Above to fix the problem (e.g. create the report), school year might be over without printing the form / report / etc. you would have needed.
Next bug: in our training, after test-running the process explained above, we tried to print a report in Schedulis hich should give us a list of all the names of students taking a course. What did we see? Only Columbus IDs. WTF?
Again during training, one of our SSAs also tried to input all the selected courses into columbus. Students should only have 32 courses. Does Columbus complain if you input the 33rd? No, it doesn't even have a label to display the number of selected courses.
I really didn't think you could mess things up THIS much, but at least I have something for the CS students I teach at my local school - every week a new story "How Not To Do Things - Part N+1".