Friday, February 15, 2008

This Post is Late Because . . .


Thursday we had a "Productivity Consultant" in to determine if we had issues with our day-to-day procedures which make our jobs harder than they need to be.

I prepped for this meeting quite a bit. I determined (having been here a stunning 2 months) what our "pain points" are. I documented examples with email and IM details and actual, environment crashing, disasters.

I also came up with a six point plan to fix it all, but that part of my presentation was crammed into the last ten minutes of the meeting and dismissed immediately.

Today, the same Productivity Consultant was back, this time to watch over my shoulder during an average Friday to see what the "real" problems are.

I took the opportunity as a chance to pretend to train someone else in what I do, acting as if she were going to pick up my task at any time so I could go home.

When she didn't write fast enough, I went back and repeated.

When the code to be built was not checked in correctly, I did an hour of detective work trying to find it.

I clicked six windows for each and every task and copied and pasted every single freaking thing multiple times.

I did not embellish my daily tasks at all.

Three times impossible or irrational requests came in and I either met the requirements or spent more time emailing evidence of my effort to all the involved parties.

When asked about documentation, I replied honestly that there was none other than my own Post-It notes.

When asked if there was a better set of tools to use to build these programs, I explained that the ones we have are barely getting us by day-to-day and that we have no time to look for other tools. More importantly, the programming language we have 80% of the code based in is no longer supported, even by fringe nerd groups.

The most common task has over fifty intricate steps with countless environmental variables.

I kicked off a lengthy checkout and glanced over to see the consultant shaking her head slowly, her face frozen in the shocked and horrified look I have only in recent days managed to replace on my own face with one of resigned apathy.

"I'm going to take a lunch and . . . process . . . some of this," she said.

"I know there isn't a lot of room for improvement," I said in my most encouraging voice,"but I'm sure you can come up with a few areas which could use a touch up."

She made a noise, like choking, and wiped spittle from her face.

"Are you kidding? This is the most f!#^*d up system I've ever seen! And I've done work for the government!"

"Yes," I answered,"I'm kidding."

She took a long lunch and I continued to pick through piles of code, noting errors and compiling crap I know will need to be compiled again.

When she returned, she saw me working the same stupid issues (transposed issue numbers in the request, invalid file locations, code completely missing from the working directory and step after manual step) and she said,"I've made a few calls about this situation. We are stumped. Can we go over your recommendations from yesterday in better detail?"

"Hell yes, we can. In fact, I emailed my presentation to the email address on your business card while you were at lunch."

My apathetic look is still in place, though. I need to keep my skills sharp.

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