This week has been bad. Scratch that. It’s been terrible. Between a very extensive project myself and another guy have been working on at work being essentially thrown in the garbage, and taking attitude from nearly everyone I know at some point or other, I just want to crawl into my bed, take a whole lot of drugs and forget that it ever happened.
You see, here at the bank, we’re trying to implement standardized processes within the IT department. Up until now, every technician could just do whatever he/she wanted whenever he/she wanted. There was no way to measure anyone’s effectiveness, and because of that, balls were being dropped left, right, centre, backwards, forwards, triangularly; you name the direction, chances are there was work not getting done.
Enter the new Vice President of IT. “We need to shape up!” he proclaimed, as those of us who had worked in IT outside of Bermuda cheered on. “Let’s get some metrics developed so we can determine who’s actually working, and who’s not!” We all thought that things were finally going to change; we thought things were going to be different.
That was 3 months ago.
Here we are, mid-February, 2007, and not only have we not made almost any progress, but in some respects, we’ve actually taken a few steps back. For example: before I even started, they had a 1 page document outlining the basic differences between Urgent, High, Medium, and Low priority tickets. Now that’s not to say anyone ever followed it, but nonetheless, it existed.
As part of this reorganization, I was put on a team with one other guy, to redesign these outlines; to essentially clarify and specify the exact differences between them, and to define when each of them should be used. We were asked for examples of the different severities (e.g. “main server on fire” would be classified as Urgent, “desktop wallpaper too pink” would be classified as Low), to research and utilize industry standards for the different time requirements (e.g. an Urgent ticket should be acknowledged to the client as being worked on within 15 minutes, and should be completely resolved within 4 hours).
We spent a good two weeks on this document, and after a number of revisions, we finally came up with a final copy that had dozens of examples for each severity, very clear and concise descriptions of the differences between them, and presented it all in a very easy to read spreadsheet. However, after presenting it to him in a meeting with a few other people, we got the impression that he didn’t like it. “Too fucking long,” he tells us. “I can’t fucking digest this, pare it down.” [Editor’s Note: Those are quotes, not exaggerations.]
You’re the goddamn Vice President of IT and 2 pages of documentation is too long? It was at this point that I started to get a bit nervous. This is an industry where some products have manuals that span multiple thousand page volumes, and 2 pages of information is to “too hard to digest”?
After taking out a bit of aggression on a pillow at home that night, I went to work the next day feeling confident that we could get it to his specifications. We had a ton of examples, so we decided the easiest course of action was to remove half of the examples. The ones we’d leave would still give a very clear image of what separated the priorities.
We submit it again, this time a full page lighter, and we are told once again that it’s “too fucking long.” On the back of our copy, he haphazardly draws out a table that was about the same size as a game of tic-tac-toe, and tells us that our next revision better fit within it, or he’ll do it himself.
So for those of you at home not keeping a running tally, let me recap thus far: we started out with a one page document which was jammed pack with information, yet too vague [scrapped], presented a 2 page first official version [scrapped], presented a 1 page revision [scrapped], and now we’re being told that the entirety of our severity ratings better be able to fit on a business card, or the entire IT department will be relying on someone who has apparently never worked in an IT department before to guide them. Are you kidding me?
We went back one last time, pared everything down one more time, being even more liberal in our cutting this time. We removed nearly all of the examples, we reworded every description point into short 3-5 word semi-sentences, and because more and more we were wondering if Mr. VP was in fact a pre-schooler trapped in a 55 year old’s body, we even color coded each different section.
As the guy I was working with has slightly more seniority than me, he presented the latest revision to Mr. Poop-in-a-potty by himself to prevent me taking any heat from it if things went wrong. Unfortunately, this guy has since gone to the Bahamas for the weekend, so I won’t know what happened until Monday. You’ll understand if I’m a bit apprehensive about the whole situation, and you will definitely understand if I don’t expect it to be approved.
I mean, how the hell are we supposed to do both the clarification of severities, which by definition requires more writing, yet bring down the total amount of writing? That, my friends, is the definition of an impossible request. You either bring up the amount of writing to get more and more specific (the right thing to do), or you cut information out so that your puny little wiener brain doesn’t have to think anymore (stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid….)
As you can probably imagine, I am none too happy about the situation, and have daily prayed to God or Buddha or Wile E. Coyote for one of those cartoon Acme anvils to drop out of the sky and compact him into a sheet of paper on the pavement.
A man can dream, can’t he?