Friday, February 10, 2006

How I spend my day

Another exciting day at work, running in circles trying to figure out problems. And now running around trying to figure out what problems there are. Our company uses a program to keep track of problems that people come across. I am responsible for working on problems reported on systems that I am assigned to. There is a nice little form to fill out, with drop down lists of employees that are authorized to report (our call center people have to get a supervisor to agree there is a problem, then the sup fills out the report). There is another list to pick the system causing the problem, and a comment area for explanations.

Two problems that I am trying to figure out:

The first system with a problem is DC Track, used by the collections department to report on direct check payments taken. The comments section says ‘Tracker real time’. A description of the problem that really pins down what is happening (very detailed, isn’t it?). Investigation starts: I have to walk over to the collections department (in the other building) and try to find the person that filled it out. No one there has heard of the problem, the one manager that always uses this reporting system says it works fine, and nobody there has ever heard of the person that filled out the report. Back here to this building, asking around for somebody that might use the report system: finding no one. Asking around for the person that filled it out: no one knows her. Back to finding the reporter, find the person who’s name is on the report has not worked here for quite a while, but was never removed from the drop down list, as historical reports require her name to still be there. So, that’s close to an hour taken talking to lots of people asking about an individual and a problem that I cannot figure out. I move the work order to ‘cannot verify’ status, and hope that whoever filled it out will see and add more comments or at least pick the right ‘from’ name.

The second system is part of our phone system, which creates lists of phone numbers for our dialer to call. The complaint is that ‘dialer detail did not run’. The person that filled it out is already gone for the day. Others in his group say that he gets daily Excel spreadsheets for some reports he does, but nobody knows what reports, or where the files are that he uses. The operations group, after quite a discussion about me not knowing what I’m asking about, does some research and says that all nightly processing steps ran with no errors, and all manual steps are checked off as being run. Past experience that I have had indicates that 98% of the time someone on the night or early morning operations shift forgot to run a program that is supposed to run every day. So, I don’t know what system, what file, or where it is supposed to be. Since our regular operations guy works from Sunday through Thursday someone else is filling in on Fridays, so there is a high probability that a step was skipped somewhere. Another hour lost, and I’ll have to wait for Monday to find out exactly what is missing, which means all the data files will have changed by then, and it will probably take me ten or twelve hours to create a program that can recreate his file instead of just running the correct program now.

So there are two totally unproductive hours, with anticipation of lots more on Monday or Tuesday to recover from a skipped step. The whole morning was spent like that. And my manager asks why I am behind in the new work I am supposed to do. I’m ready for it to be Friday. (Oh, wait, it is, yea!)

A few minutes to calm down, and I find Rob points to a very nicely written Waiter's story. Makes me wish that I could write interesting stories that are so concise.

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