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Integrations Wordpress Zapier Dropbox. Steve turns to look at me. This was a totally unforeseen emergency but obviously one that we had to handle. Everyone knows how important Phoenix is, and we are doing everything we can to make sure Brent can stay focused.
Our competition is killing us in the market. But for some reason, you and your team keep dragging your feet. Maybe it was the condescending way she was parroting Steve to me. Or the way she basically called me out-of-touch and incompetent. Everyone is silent as I force myself to take a deep breath.
My anger dissipates. This is all just corporate theater. I almost made the Marines my career when I was up for promotion to staff sergeant. Steve told me to resolve the payroll failure. How would you have prioritized this differently than Steve? Apparently deciding there are no more points to be gained here, she rolls her eyes. I see Wes shaking his head in disbelief at this discussion, staying uncharacteristically quiet. We must get to market. He just made up an arbitrary date to go into production, with complete disregard for all the things we need to do before deployment.
I have a sudden flashback. In the Marines, we had a ritual for all the senior NCOs. We just found out two weeks ago about the specifics of the Phoenix deployment. And by the way, the vendors are already quoting us three-week delivery times! God knows what this will do to the budget. Oh, do you guys not need a test environment anymore?
The plot is simple: First, you take an urgent date-driven project, where the shipment date cannot be delayed because of external commitments made to Wall Street or customers. Then you add a bunch of developers who use up all the time in the schedule, leaving no time for testing or operations deployment. And because no one is willing to slip the deployment date, everyone after Development has to take outrageous and unacceptable shortcuts to hit the date.
The results are never pretty. We routinely have had to wait days or even weeks to get anything we need from you guys! But from the very beginning, we all knew that this was a date-driven project. That was a business decision we all made. Perfection is the enemy of good. We need to create positive cash flow, and we cannot do that without taking back market share. And to do that, we need to deploy Phoenix.
Sarah has blunted all my arguments, leading Steve down a reckless, destructive path. We gave that team nine months to plan the rollout. Nine months! And all of us agreed that was reasonable. This is at least ten thousand times more complex than rolling out new water fountains, with way more risk to the business. Besides, I believe the decision has already been made. Thank you for sharing what you view as the risks, Bill. Phoenix will deploy at 5 p. How did we get into this position?
We have problems at every layer: networking, servers, databases, operating systems, applications, Layer 7 switching—the whole wad of crap. Stop trying to do this by e-mail and in the ticketing system.
We need everyone in the same room. Is that true? Brent needs to work with developers to fix issues at the source so we can stop fighting fires.
If someone has a problem with that, send them to me. The disk drive light just keeps blinking. When nothing shows on the screen, I grab my empty mug that I keep on my desk by the picture of Paige and my two sons and walk to the coffee machine in the corner.
It happens again even after I reboot. Congratulations on the promotion, Bill! Of all people, you need a working computer, right? This is surely evidence that the universe is out to get me today. Has anyone granted you access to my calendar yet? She rolls her eyes. I wanted to see if you could print out your next couple of days.
Sometimes it takes weeks for the e-mail administrators to get around to stuff like this. Call me if you need anything, okay? Instead, I see only Patty sitting at the conference table, typing away on her laptop. When I ran the midrange group, my team would never miss our change management meetings. But most groups do nothing at all. Right now, the left hand rarely knows what the right hand is doing.
She purses her lip. We sent a bunch of people to ITIL training, so they could get up to speed on all the best practices. We brought in some consultants, who helped us replace our ticketing system with an ITIL-compliant change management tool. People were supposed to put change requests into it, where it would get routed for approvals. But, even after two years, all we have is a great process on paper that no one follows and a tool that no one uses.
When I pester people to use them, all I get are complaints and excuses. Efforts like this must start and be continually maintained from the top. With my total support. If someone wants to skip a change management meeting, they obviously are in need of some special compassionate coaching.
From me. Sarah and Chris were at the wheel, but Steve was in back, cheering them on to floor it. It all sounds good. She startles at the sound of my voice. The battery has been taped on, and half the keyboard lettering is worn off from heavy use.
For a moment, I wonder if this is a practical joke. I sit down and bring up my e-mail, but everything is so slow that several times I thought it had locked up. Ellen has a sympathetic expression on her face. Once again, John is causing huge issues and disruptions for my team and me. I merely nod and thank her for the help. I was extremely disappointed that I was the only one there, besides Patty, especially given the totally avoidable, change-related failure yesterday.
Effective immediately, managers or their assigned delegates are required to attend all scheduled CAB meetings and to perform their assigned duties. We are resurrecting the Parts Unlimited change management process and it will be followed to the letter.
See you there. Call me if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks for your support, Bill I hit send, waiting fifteen seconds for the e-mail to finally leave my outbox. Almost immediately, my cell phone rings. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, could get a single thing done.
Patty insisted on having everyone take a number and wait for her pointy-heads to authorize and schedule our changes. It was absolutely ridiculous and a total waste of time. It takes twenty minutes to fill out all those fields for a simple five-minute change! Wes, I need you there, and I need you to help create the solution. What will it take for us to all get along?
My jaw still hurts from clenching it all night. The dismal prospects of the upcoming Phoenix launch were never far from my mind.
As usual, before climbing out of bed, I quickly scan my phone for any bad news. Usually, I would spend about ten minutes replying to e-mails—it always feels good to lob a couple of balls off my side of the court. I see something that makes me bolt upright so abruptly that I wake up Paige. What, what? We discovered some very concerning deficiencies that we need to discuss with you. Due to the severity and urgency of the findings, we need to meet with IT this morning.
She is incredibly smart and formidable. Years ago during the retail acquisition integration, I watched her grill a manager from the business we were acquiring. He was presenting their financial performance, when she started a rapid-fire interrogation, like a cross between Columbo, Matlock, and Scarface. Recalling that meeting, my armpits feel damp.
But given the tone of the e-mail, she is clearly hot on the trail of something important, and Steve just threw me in her path. This kept Audit from interfering too much. Sure, there would still be a lot of questions and documentation requests, requiring us to spend a few weeks collecting data and preparing responses. Occasionally, they would find something, but we would quickly fix it. I like to think that we built a mutually respectful working relationship. However, this e-mail portends something more ominous.
I look at my watch. Something really bad just came up involving the Chief Audit Executive and Steve. I need to make some phone calls and get to the office right away. I have an early start today, too! This is really important. The CEO of the company asked me to handle this. Steve Masters. You know, the guy on TV and who gives the big speeches at the company holiday party? Nancy sits at the head of the table, with four other people sitting around her. Sitting next to her is John along with his ever-present, black three-ring binder.
Most likely from all the stress associated with his failing moral crusade. John actually reminds me more of Brent than anyone else in the room.
We have a grave situation. Tim, our IT auditor, found an eye-opening number of IT control issues. Worse, many are repeat findings going into the third year.
Left unresolved, these findings may force us to conclude that the company no longer has sufficient controls to assert the accuracy of its financial statements. This could result in an adverse footnote from the external auditors in the company K filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Satisfied that I understand the severity of the situation, Nancy nods. It took a team of four people over eight weeks to create this consolidated report. I lift the two-inch thick stack of papers in my hand. Where did they find a stapler this big? The last page is numbered page Given how soon the external audit starts, we need your remediation plan as soon as possible. Is this a joke? Do you think you can make it? I pick up the huge stack of papers again and look at a couple of random pages. There are many entries like Wes read, but others have references to inadequate security settings, presence of ghost login accounts, change control issues, and segregation of duties issues.
They convinced the CIO to sign a management waiver, stating that he accepted the risk, and do nothing. That finding is now closed. The presence of PII is not in the scope of the SOX audit, so from that perspective, focusing on the IT general controls might have been a better use of time. Which of these findings are the most important for us to respond to?
The first issue is the potential material weakness, which is outlined on page seven. This finding states that an unauthorized or untested change to an application supporting financial reporting could have been put into production. This could potentially result in an undetected material error, due to fraud or otherwise.
Management does not have any control that would prevent or detect such a change. After I pretend to take detailed notes on my clipboard, circling and underlining random words, I nod, prompting Tim to continue.
This violates the required segregation of duty required to prevent risk for fraud. Developers making changes to an application without an approved change order? That certainly sounds like a security risk. What would happen if someone coerced a developer, say Max, into doing something unauthorized? I agree and would be happy to help. I stare glumly at the huge stack of findings. Most of these issues are just like the huge, useless reports we get from Information Security, which is another reason why John has such a bad reputation.
My team has a lot of experience patching systems, if you require assistance. These audit findings are an awesome opportunity to close some big security holes. Half the company will grind to a halt if they go down, and the vendor went out of business decades ago!
The trick is figuring out what we have time to do and what systems can actually be patched. Wes, Patty, and I can assign people the task of investigating each issue, but who will actually do the work? Will that be adequate?
Noticing this, John remains behind, as well. They want to skip all the security reviews. You probably should talk to Chris and Sarah right away. He flips through his stack of papers again.
Should we reassign them here? Wes stares at one of the pages for a moment. Brent, Brent, Brent! Look at us! Heck, the guy may know more about how this company works than I do. This should be as unacceptable to you as it is to me! One, ten, or a hundred? What I need from you is what resources we need. In the meantime, everyone will continue to want everything at the same time, and keep adding to our list of things to do.
Because I never got the budget, I eliminated a bunch of positions just so I could hire four more very senior engineers at the same level of experience as Brent. And you know what happened? He complains that he had to spend a bunch of time training and helping the new guys, and is now stretched thinner than ever. Where can I get a copy? Who owns the list?
How many infrastructure projects? Wes shakes his head. I call Patty. I need your help to figure what all our work commitments are, so I can have an intelligent discussion with Steve about resourcing.
Can you talk? Come on over. How big is that list and how do things get on it? We have our own IT Operations projects, which are typically managed by the technology budget owner—there is no centralized list of those projects. But that list will be incomplete, too, because so many people in the business just go to their favorite IT person.
All that work is completely off the books. We bump up the priorities of things all the time, but we never really know what just got bumped down. Do I have it right? Bonus points if you and Wes can determine which resources are most overutilized and how many new resources we need.
That would be the basis of an ask to Steve for more staffing. Get a meeting set up for us to go over what you find, no later than Friday. I want to have a meeting with Steve on Monday, armed with some real data. As Wes had predicted, more and more work is being deferred to the next release, including almost all of the testing. During a lull in the discussion, I look down at my phone and see an e-mail from Patty. She wants to meet about resourcing, promising some eye-opening surprises.
I grab a seat. What we found was—well, it was interesting. Right now, these numbers are only for our key resources. And we know that the project count is low. I groan. While some projects are small, most seem like major undertakings, estimated at three man-years or more.
And look at the next line: Compliance is the next largest project. And even if we only worked on compliance, it would consume most of our key resources for an entire year! And that includes Brent, by the way. If we put all our projects on hold except for the audit findings, our key resources would be tied up for an entire year?
If someone had shown me these figures during my first conversation with Steve, I would have run from the room, screaming like a little boy. Keep going. And because these often involve critical business systems, incidents will take priority over everything else, including Phoenix and fixing audit findings. So there we were interrupting him from Phoenix work, only to be interrupted by an outage! I start to laugh, but then stop abruptly. What outage? When another drive failed, the entire volume went down.
Brent had to help restore some of the databases when we got the SAN back up. That was completely preventable! Get one of your junior guys to look at the logs every day for drive failures. Maybe even have him visually inspect the drives and count all the blinking lights. We need Brent on Phoenix, not piddly shit like this! We had to get one of our vendors to give it to us on credit.
I need you to do your job. Set up a meeting sometime next week for you, me, and Patty to get to the bottom of these outages. The one consistent theme in the interviews was that everyone struggles to get their project work done.
Even when they do have time, they struggle to prioritize all their commitments. People in the business constantly ask our staff to do things for them. Especially Marketing. But it was still dispiriting to hear Wes point out that real help was still a long way off, even if Steve approved the headcount. If we can get our old change process going, we might be able to quickly resolve one of the largest audit issues and get some operational wins, as well.
As I near the conference room, I hear loud voices arguing. He was one of our best networking people. You signed off on that termination! Why is this suddenly my fault? That goes in front of the audit committee. Who invited John to this meeting? Are we ready to review some changes?
Most of the technical leads from the various groups are sitting at the table. Wes is standing up behind his chair, fuming, while Patty is standing in the front of the room, arms crossed. John sits in the back of the room, with his three-ring binder open, very much an unwanted guest. Using both hands, I set down my antique laptop. It hits the table with a thud and a clatter as the battery falls off, the tape no longer holding it in place, and then I hear a scratching sound as the disk drive spins down.
What is that, a Kaypro II? I smile briefly at Wes, grateful for the comic relief. What started off as a medium-sized payroll failure snowballed into a massive friendly-fire SAN incident. This is not acceptable. We need to tighten up our change controls, and as managers and technical leads, we must figure out how we can create a sustainable process that will prevent friendly-fire incidents and get the auditors off our back, while still being able to get work done.
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