A blog post originally published in 2008. Scenes from a life that I no longer live.
This Is My Job...
December 2, 2008 at 8:03am
...but this is not my life.
It is a sad day when we finally put all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together and realize that the image they create is not a very pretty picture. Let me show you two of the pieces that have fallen into place over the past few years and see if you can tell me what the image is.
Puzzle Piece #1) While diagnosing a problem in our southern office about 5 years ago, I was helping a co-worker input some data into our database. This data concerned statistical information on the volunteers that work for us. When I got to the birth date field my co-worker said they didn't input that anymore. This came as a shock to me because it is a required field. We have to produce statistical information regarding our Volunteers to Federal Agencies for compliance and one of those statistics is an age breakdown. So I asked my co-worker why they no longer input this data. "Because it is no longer on the application." was her response. Our volunteer application had been revised and 'redesigned' by a 'management team' who could not see the relevance of asking someone for their birth date. Obviously the 'management team' didn't have any statistical background or they would have realized they were shooting themselves in the foot by removing this question from the application. The work-around?, add a new process to the statistical data input where we have to look up their birth date via their Federal background check information. (God forbid we should just go back to the old application questionnaire!)
Jump ahead 5 years.
Puzzle Piece #2) I am composing an e-mail at my desk when 'Boat Anchor' comes into my office inquiring if the e-mail problem has been resolved. "What e-mail problem?", I respond. He tells me to read my e-mail from the Program Manager. It appears that all of the confidential e-mails that are being sent to us by an outside vendor are being bounced back as un-deliverable. Which means we aren't getting the 50 to 100 e-mails per day that we need to complete our job process. Hmmm, not good.
It obviously appeared to be an e-mail server issue so I started firing off an e-mail to our 'Crackerjack' ITD support center to look at the server and possibly reboot the darn thing. Half way through composing the e-mail, I remember reading something that morning in my e-mail inbox that made me pause. Pulling up my old e-mail, there is a notice from one of the Program Managers in my division indicating that the structure of the Microsoft Public Outlook folders on the E-mail Exchange Server have been modified to make them look 'neater' and more organized. Putting two and two together, I quickly realized that the inbox for the e-mails that were getting bounced, were in the modified portion of the directory tree, and in effect, the e-mail inboxes had been moved and were no longer available.
Once again, Management had made a decision that affected everyone in our division without thinking through all the consequences. End result, we have lost about 300 confidential e-mails that will have to be resent, and placed our work flow process in the office back about 3 days.
Which brings me back to the title of this blog. This is all I do. I research what others have done to see how the decisions that they made in the past have screwed up our business process in the present, and then try and come up with ways to correct their mistakes. This is all I do, seriously.
The reasons for both of these mishaps is obvious, but I am the only one in my organization that has the history and the knowledge to see the linkage between the events and know what factors lead to which conclusions. I have long since given up the idea of really accomplishing anything here, I just put out the fires that others carelessly and accidentally start. I am one of the mentors for the morons.