Wednesday 9 November 2011

The New "Emergency"

In our on demand, self serve world, the word Emergency has taken on new meaning. Emergency now means anytime you can't get exactly what you want exactly when you want it.  The first world problems meme that has made its way around the interwebs pretty much has it nailed.  We have all come to expect a certain level of service from companies and technology in our personal lives and that expectation finds its way into our work lives as well.

The old adage "The lack of planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine" has apparently gone the way of the floppy disk.  We are now programmed to expect everything to be on demand and that includes our interactions with various different teams in a work environment.  Someone needs a new server for whatever purpose and the inevitable dialog is as follows:
I need a new server for project X with Y specs (wouldn't that be nice, to get specs with requests! but I digress)
OK, when do you need it by?
Oh, no rush, this afternoon should be fine. (Somewhere back in the depths of history, this kind of turnaround would have been an emergency, now? Normal.)
That is about the time when I need to bite my lip and start the slow nod of hatred.  It's not that technically we can't get it done in that time frame.  Anything is possible given the correct balance of time, money and expertise.  There are a couple of problems with a request coming in like this.

First, if I need anything from other teams to build this server I now have to pay this lack of respect forward by telling them that my request for storage or IP addresses is a rush and will need to make its way to the top of their pile of work.
Second, you are ass-u-me-ing that your work is the only or most important work that I am already working on.  If I was just sitting around waiting for your request and not doing anything else then the company wouldn't be paying me for very long.
Third, it says to me that someone in the chain has no idea what amount of work is involved in whatever type of request was made.  Maybe it wasn't you, maybe it wasn't even the person that tasked you with it.  But it was someone, there is a person someone that uttered the words, "Ya, they should be able to do that"

All we can hope in this ever increasing pace of expected turnaround is that people at least try to reduce the number of these things that once in the distant past were known as "Emergencies"


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