Playing telephone

I am currently burning off some consultancy karma. Or to look at it another way, I’m getting paid back for every time I misunderstood a client’s requirements and delivered something they didn’t ask for, couldn’t use, and wouldn’t pay for.

My job is to define business requirements (from the perspective of the marketing team where I sit) for various internally-facing tools. Today I had someone from the IT group on the phone explaining to me that, in the course of developing the estimate for building one of these tools, they had scoped the effort as including a data warehouse, OLAP capabilities, and a custom report builder. “!!!!” I replied. “All we really want is some easy reports with standard parameters. And the data set only has four dimensions; how the heck could we even get anything out of an OLAP cube?”

“Oh,” came the reply. “That’s good; that should drive the estimate down quite a bit.”

Sigh. I know I’ve done the same thing more than once to my old customers, but it doesn’t make me feel any happier. It still feels like a game of telephone.