Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Monday, July 15, 2002 We just recently upgraded most of the phone equipment and hardware in our office. This is a pretty big deal for a business with a Call Center at its heart. I help run that Call Center, particularly its technical aspects, so I’m in a good position to see everything that affects it. And even if I’d been out of the office for weeks and came back today, I’d still be able to tell that there’s been an upgrade because of the staggering number of things that don’t work any more.
The upgrade wasn’t my idea. As far as I know, it wasn’t the idea of anyone in this office. Instead, people who are in charge of telephone communications for our whole company, people who work in a building 1500 miles away, decided we needed an upgrade. And so, during the last weekend in June, a group of them flew in, tore apart our voice communications hardware and software, and put in practically all new stuff. They, and other people, and I have been trying to get it all to work right ever since.
Apparently this was necessary because we’re going to have a new infusion of personnel over the next couple of months, and the old system couldn’t handle it. That may be the case. However, I can think of a few things that the old system could handle. Certain vital reports, for instance. Printing those reports, for another. Twelve screens at a time with a refresh rate of three seconds, as opposed to the current maximum eight screens with a five-second refresh rate (that may not seem like a big deal, but those missing seconds add up. A twenty-four hour day is now only 17.5 hours long because of those lost seconds). Plus nearly every phone number into and out of the building had to be changed for reasons that were never fully explained. And these are issues that will still exist even after the new system is completely functional, which so far nobody has been able to accomplish. Not to get too technical here, but the combination of these and other factors have contributed to a condition I like to call a Pain In My Ass.
I know that glitches are to be expected, but what kind of upgrade has the end result of making everyone’s job harder instead of easier? And doesn’t it behoove people to know what to expect when they undertake this kind of operation? Before you yank the slats out from under a business, you better be pretty damn sure you know how the new ones are going to fit in. The people who did our upgrade promised a smooth transition. Instead they put in a hundred-hour weekend trying to figure out how to get the pieces back together. That doesn’t even count the time they spent leaving desperate messages on my voice mail at home. Unfortunately for them, I was attending to some pressing personal obligations at the time (namely, imitating Fred Schneider at the karaoke bar).
Then they spent the rest of the week trying to dig out from under an avalanche of complaints from clients and coworkers about all the interesting and frustrating and endlessly creative ways that the “upgrade” was preventing them from conducting their business. I know this because the majority of those complaints were channeled through me. I would say that everything imaginable went wrong, but that statement grievously overestimates the human imagination. To say that we were better off with the old system would be an absurd understatement. To say that we would have been better off with string and tin cans isn’t true either, but not by much.
Things are still being fixed, and my coworkers and I are still figuring out workarounds for the stuff we used to do but can’t any more. Next time someone offers to do an upgrade for me, I’m going to spit in his toes, stomp on his eyes, and run away very fast.
I was always under the impression that an upgrade implied some kind of improvement, but that hasn’t been the case here. Instead of a major upgrade, we got a major upyours.
posted by M. Giant 6:56 PM 0 comments