We have come close a few times, only to lose funding, lose the programmers to another project, or get the rug pulled out from under us at the last second by our own architects making up new rules on the spot and tripling our expected costs.
This latest round round is coming at the directive of one of our vice presidents, and he has an impressive list of other names next to his on the sponsorship list, so for a change IT is taking this project seriously. I spent a couple of hours on the phone last week with a BA and a developer, giving them an outline of what the report is, and what the interactive user components do. I offered a couple of suggestions for where the new platform could reside, and they agreed that they were both good candidates.
At the start of this week, the BA called me and asked if I was OK with them removing the interactive portions of the job and just sitting it on top of our Enterprise Data Warehouse. I informed him rather tersely that I was just the subject matter expert, and the guy who wrote the original report and UI, but that I was not even close to being authorized to make that kind of call.
Today we had another meeting with the IT project manager, and I again voiced my concerns about the proposed solution. I said, "If we just pile it on top of the EDW, then there is little point in turning this into a project, since my report already feeds from the EDW." I know what they are doing, and it pisses me off. They have realized that this thing is a slightly larger scope than they had anticipated, so they are looking for the cheapest, easiest solution. They are convinced that they can examine the reasons why the end users employed the editing UI to remove items from the report and automate that process at the table level.
What will happen is that they will produce a replacement report that comes nowhere near addressing the needs of the business, and they will turn to --- guess who --- to build a new desktop report with a UI that lets the end users edit the data into a form that has any value to them.
A few minutes ago I sent them a detailed spreadsheet with a couple thousand counts and details from my audit files, outlining the reason codes entered by the users for modifying the report output. ~50% of the edit reasons were for the free-form reason "Other - specify reasons." I had argued against including that reason code at all back in 2006 because I knew that it would get abused, but I was overruled by more knowledgeable people.
If only they could see my trollish grin as I mailed them this file and pictured them pouring through hundreds of free-form fields, trying to find patterns that they could automate in the tables. I wish them luck, because I want this thing off my desktop. Now.