So far, I have seen some weird, funny things going on in my job and like any sector, there are several inside jokes in the Software Industry, some of which you might have received by email, like the ones involving project planning, documenting, implementing, testing and the result being something that is entirely irrelevant to the requirement.
There are obviously several ways to procure a business - you agree to generate a software for a client, even if it is not at all necessary. Something that is existing might very well do or in some cases, the whole project is totally unnecessary except for giving work to those who hold jobs with the client themselves.
This was a scenario I came across for the first time in my limited five and a half years experience. Now, in this case, the client already has a software in some technology that generates a report. The IT guys who are employed to seek business convince the clients that they would generate a software that would improve the performance of the report generated, that is, generate it in a short time, less servers and so on. The client finally gives in and provides a document that was created when the project was initially commenced.
One of the important things about documents is that even the ones who wrote it cannot tell you what they are all about, none of the changes are all entered and it is simply an overview of what the entire project was about. The long and short of it is you cannot write a code with the help of the document especially for an existing project whose report is currently used.
The only other way is to refer the codes and identify the process, input, tables involved, etc., But these will not be shared as they are "IP" Intellectual Property of the clients. So, there is no idea of the inputs, the processing logic and what the output consists of. You only have a few documents with basic information of what the report must contain and a sample report with data. But you need to do everything to generate the report that is exactly like the one they are currently extracting.
This is all very well - after all it is business, you find a way to give them what they want or you sell them what you have. But one thing that the manager said was indeed the height of ridiculousness. "An engineer must create things from scratch, only a layman works with everything in place".
Really??? In this case!!