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).

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