The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Internal Corporate Malfeasense

This is all types of messed up.

Negiyo had an internal trouble ticket system, called TTTS. Built in-house it wasn't a bad system and since it was developed within Negiyo, it was pretty well integrated workflow wise.

But a few years ago it seems it because too slow to be usable and so a search for a replacement commenced. And this is where things become unclear. A new system, Cowbell was found to replace TTTS. Hefty new hardware was bought. Hefty new software (Oracle for one) was bought. And Cowbell was bought (and whoever was responsible either received a hefty kick-back, received incredible sex or was totally blinded by the “Silver Bullet” bill-of-sales they were presented with).

Much wailing, knashing of teeth and late night hacking sessions and Cowbell was on the floor for all of Negiyo to use.

Now, when TTTS was in use, it was expected that Level 1 Technical Support Person (L1TSP) would be able to handle (either resolve or escalate) 60 cases in average per day (around 7.5 minutes per case). Unfortunately the expectations of Cowbell vastly exceeded what Cowbell could actually handle and the average number of cases a L1TSP was expected to handle dropped to about 20 (or one case every 22.5 minutes).

And even that is pushing things. A person new to the system might be lucky to get one case out per hour.

It's not that the technical issues the L1TSPs are expected to troubleshoot are harder. In fact, they haven't really changed since TTTS was in use, and in most cases, the technical issues only take about five minutes on average to troubleshoot. It's looking up customer information, gathering notes, collecting notes, writing the case history and wrapping things up that takes fifteen minutes or more under Cowbell. Cowbell requires IE (whereas TTTS could use any browser) and to get anything done (say, looking up related tickets) you have to have a separate instance of IE running (not window—an actual second copy of the program running) and often times, three or more instances of IE are required. As such, there is currently a three month backlog of cases due to the time required to handle such cases under Cowbell.

A few months ago some mid-level manager realized that if the hardware bought for Cowbell had been used for TTTS, then the whole issue of TTTS being too slow to use would never have been an issue. Too late to change back now.

Until Negiyo got a second bill from Cowbell for five figures.

It turns out that one just doesn't buy Cowbell, one leases Cowbell for five figures a year, every year, year in and year out.

Any savings for buying a pre-canned solution over maintaining an in-house built solution just went out the window (and the parties responsible for selecting Cowbell can no longer be found, presumedly they were either sucessful in spreading the blame around, or left the company two days after the purchase to rape and pillage other companies for greener pastures).

So beginning in April they're going back to TTTS.

But they're still abusing training new hires on using Cowbell. And out of about a dozen new people hired, I think there's only one that remained in training (yes, Cowbell is that bad).


Some more thoughts on Internal Corporate Malfeasense

The whole thing with Negiyo and Cowbell is just an example of a much wider phenomenon (do doo bee doo doo) whereby some high-up muckity muck (or even some mid-level muckity muck) makes a sweeping change that costs the company (or heck, government agency or even a non-profit organization) gobs of money, time and energy with no repercussions happening to the person making the change.

Now, I'm not saying a person should be fired for making a mistake, because Lord knows I've made plenty of mistakes, some of them real doozies that cost the company I was working for lots of money. We (hopefully) learn from our mistakes and for a while today I was real conflicted on this because I wanted to take the person reponsible for Cowbell out back and apply a hefty clue-by-four upside their head.

And it might have been a mistake on their part.

But I was able to identify the dichotomy I had—on the one hand, I felt that releasing the lawyers hounds lawyers on this person was fully justified for loosing thousands, if not millions, of dollars, yet on the other hand, it might have been an honest mistake on their part—TTTS was slowly dying and by going to an outside source for the trouble ticket system, the company might have lowered their operating costs and gotten better performance which turned out not to be the case (and like I said, I've made mistakes, like using Java for Project Brainstorm). The resolution I found is in living with the mistake!

Had the person (or people) responsible for choosing Cowbell (switching back to Negiyo here) had to use Cowbell on a daily basis and been forced to admit “Yup, this was a mistake. A million dollar mistake, but a mistake nonetheless,” I don't think I would have nearly the hatred for the person (or people) as I do, since (from what I hear) it's plainly clear that the person (or people) responsible for the decision aren't obligated to live with the results (and in my case, the Java version of Brainstorm didn't pan out, so I had to go on and implement it two more times).


An Open Letter to Marlene

From: Marlene Bender <scanforlife@webband.com>
To: sean@conman.org
Subject: Link exchange with your site http://boston.conman.org
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006 23:14:22 -0500

Dear Webmaster,

My name is Marlene Bender, and I run the web site Work at Home Ideas and Opportunities:

http://XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX/

I recently found your site http://boston.conman.org and am very interested in exchanging links. I've gone ahead and posted a link to your site, on this page:

http://www.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX/resources_business_2.html[that's the wrong page, it's actually on http://XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX/resources_business_4.html but who cares?]

As you know, reciprocal linking benefits both of us by raising our search rankings and generating more traffic to both of our sites. Please post a link to my site as follows:

Title: Work at Home Ideas and Opportunities
URL: http://www.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX/
Description: Work at home ideas and opportunities

Once you've posted the link, let me know the URL of the page that it's on, by entering it in this form:

http://www.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

You can also use that form to make changes to the text of the link to your site, if you'd like.

Thank you very much,

Marlene Bender

Dear Marlene,

I may call you Marlene, right? Okay.

Dear Marlene,

Thank you so much for your email. But i seriously have to wonder what you are thinking to include me on a site about at-home businesses when I don't have an at-home business. Nor do I have any real insight into making tons of money (much to the consternation of my Dad). I mean, I've only made $3.03 from Google AdSense; I'm not giving up my day job any time soon.

Besides, this is a blatent attempt to raise your own PageRank™ value (which is currently at zero I see) by getting me (who has a PageRank™ of five for The Boston Diaries) to link to you. Normally I'm not stingy with the links, but for this? Especially when you can't even send me the proper link?

Hah!

Oops. I meant—

Sorry, but I'll decline linking to you.

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