Browsing articles tagged with " Process"

It’s Reorg Season…

Dec 18, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Careers, Professional Development, Reviews, Snark  //  9 Comments

If you work in a large organization, you probably have been through a number of reorganizations. You know how this works: your management chain changes, people get new titles, and maybe, if you are lucky a few people get laid off. A good example are DBAs–they are a regular choice for reorganization, as they are frequently moved from Infrastructure to Applications groups or vice versa.

So how does this happen? It’s usually a several phase process, which starts with a new high level executive (usually the CIO or perhaps in larger organizations a Senior Vice President). He or she brings in a team of overpaid consultants (no, not consultants that fix problems—these tend to be big 5 organizational consultants who haven’t actually worked in IT). And the new CIO, if your karma is really dented, will bring along a new team of direct reports to help him get his quarterly bonuses.


Then, the project gets a really cool, exciting sounding name.


So The Parabola Project usually starts in late summer, just after vacation season. You may notice strange requests for information from your manager, also you may hear undercurrents about the latest hot methodologies (Agile, ITIL, Scrum). Around Thanksgiving, the rumors will really kick into overdrive. “The whole IT org is getting outsourced to Moldovia”, or “The reason why Senior Director X left for BjgReallyCoolNewTech, Inc. is that he was going to lose his job in the reorg”, are some examples of the types of rumors you will hear. Then eventually in early December, just before everyone leaves for Christmas, a new organization will be announced, there will be grumblings, and your IT organization will continue to have the same problems it had before. Only now the problems will be even more complex due to the recent organizational changes and for two months people will be way less productive because they don’t know what they are supposed to be doing.

So why do we do this? Companies lose a ton of productivity and pay consulting firms into the millions of dollars for what amounts to rotating the tires on your car. I feel like it’s a twofold process that relates to poor management.

  1. Managers/Directors/VPs get bored in their day to day roles and want to make change happen
  2. The same group of middle managers doesn’t want to address people problems, so they try to solve them using process
  3. Calling something new (Special Knowledge Efficiency Workgroup will somehow make ineffective people, processes or technologies work better.
  4. Reorg activity can take the focus of poorly performing projects as well as provide a great project slippage justification

Technology, Process and People

IT is a three-legged stool consist technology, process and people. You can mitigate some technology problems with people, and technology can be used to replace people (computers are more consistent than humans). Where it gets challenging is when companies try to fix people problems with process. Once in a while a reorg can help foster collaboration within an organization. I’ve been through one such reorg where functions were split into a global/regional/local model, which was really effective in fostering process standardization and opening communication channels. However, when people who or can’t do their jobs, changing the reporting structure won’t turn them into superstars. Instead, the constant cycle of reorgs annoys and drives away your good employees. The mediocre employees who are happy just to have jobs, will stay since they have fewer options. So what can you do when the inevitable reorg happens?

  • Have a really solid internal network—it will let you know if you are being impacted well ahead of the reorg, which leads to…
  • Always have your resume/CV up to date, if the reorg puts you in a less favorable position, it may be time to move
  • Having a strong external network is also critical in helping plan your next moves

As long as there are companies there will be reorgs—middle managers need to keep themselves occupied. The best way to deal with this as an employee is to keep yourself extremely employable—keep your skills and network up to date, and you will always have a lot of employment options. If you have career options, you won’t need to sweat a reorg, and if the reorg really sucks, vote with your feet.

Wait…You don’t want to be our customer anymore?

Jul 12, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data Governance, Professional Development, Snark  //  2 Comments

Rotary Phone

Today I received yet another bill from Allstream, our telecommunications provider for our toll-free number.   It was only for $5, but there was a problem…I’d cancelled my account with them a couple of months ago.  Yet they were still sending a bill.  The call went like this, for the most part:


Me: This is my 3rd call* to cancel my services

Allstream: Your services are all disconnected

Me: But I’m still getting billed.

Allstream: Yes.

Me: Why am I still getting billed?

Allstream: That’s our customer charge**.

Me: What the f….?

Allstream: You didn’t cancel being a customer, so your account is still active even though your services aren’t.

Me: <redacted>

Allstream:…<pause>… did you want to cancel that?

Me: Yes, and I’m not going to pay this bill, either.

Allstream: Well, this one time*** we will waive that charge.

Me: You bet it’s one time.

Allstream: I’ve cancelled your customer account.  Is there anything else I can help you with?

Me: No.

Allstream: Thank you for doing business with Allstream.

Me: <click>

* When we tried to cancel the first time, Rob called to do the cancellation, but they had to confirm with me.  So he got me on the phone and I confirmed.  Then days later, while I was on the road, they left a message asking if I really wanted to cancel or did I want to upgrade to something else.  I didn’t return their call, so they cancelled the cancellation. And they continued to bill me. Seems they really didn’t want me to cancel.

**Customer charges are becoming the norm for services, at least here in Ontario.  Business tack on these charges so that they can advertise lower rates for their core services.  All the utilities and service companies do this.  It’s just a charge for the cost of you being a customer.  Because you are a liability to them, not an asset.  They must charge you for the right to charge you.  Or something like that.

*** One time fixes always get me going.  It must be fun to say that only this one time will the company fix their errors.  It really does make me want to run to find their competitor.

IT: The Enabler

I wonder what it’s like to work on project that support these inane business rules.  How do project managers, business analysts, data architects, DBAs, devs et al sit through meetings and write up these requirements?  How do people just sit back and implement these sorts of rules, rules that clearly work against the customers and ultimately the bottom line?  Do you write all your requirements in Comic Sans?  Do you get free sodas and bottled water? A foosball table? Sure, jobs are tight and the economy is bad, but how do you bring yourselves to do this without having to take a 20 minute hot shower when you get home every night?

Changing Tools? Here’s Some Free Advice That’s Paid For

Feb 11, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development  //  2 Comments

imageIs your project suffering?  Are people struggling with their current toolset?  If they haven’t had training in the tool ("I’ve been modeling for 40 years; I don’t need training" or "There’s documentation; I’ll read it someday"), changing tools isn’t going to help solve the problem.

If your process is broken, if your resources are lacking training in the tool, let me do the math for you:

New Tool +
Broken Process +
Lack of Training =

Old Problem with a New Notation


I should also mention that switching tools to try to fix a process, people, or training problem will lead to:

  • Project delays
  • Increased project risk
  • Increased budgets
  • Decreased productivity
  • Decreased confidence in IT
  • Decreased team morale

If you don’t fix your process, people, or training issues, all the tools in the world aren’t going to provide benefits you think you are going to get.

You are most welcome.

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