Gem of a job results in massive savings

Your invite in the article entitled: A job of hidden treasures (CW March 22 p18), encouraged me to tell of my domain in a previous job...

First day on the job" I 'almost' trip and 'almost' spill coffee on my file servers, which are conveniently located just outside the staff kitchen. Hmmm... I'll have to think about relocating these mission-critical servers (only to find out later that we don't actually have a computer room)! They placed their servers outside the kitchen "because that's where the phone system is located". Looks like I have my work cut out for me...

I get to my cubicle to enjoy my first cuppa (no I don't have an office yet. They're waiting on someone to retire and I was assured that I would get the first available...).

On to my first task. I have a Frame Relay bill in my in-tray that I am supposed to approve; $3800 for a remote site. Is this per annum? No, it's per month! How many staff in this office? I am told it has six staff. After some digging, I find that a misconfigured router had dialled (Dial Connect on STD rates) into the Sydney office on the first day of deployment. It was configured to drop the line after 16 minutes of 'inactivity'. But within 16 minutes 'something' would always bring the line up for another 16 minutes (an errant PC configured to check for e-mail every one minute). So this STD call came up from Day 1 and stayed up 24 hours a day seven days a week! And someone had been approving this monthly bill for one and a half years! Reconfigured the router to drop the line after two minutes and told everyone to turn off their PCs before going home. Voila! Next monthly bill was $770. Just saved the company $36K per annum. Not bad for the first day's work!

Second day on the job: I am now supposed to approve the telephone bill. That’s $45K worth of phone calls. Is this per annum? No, it's per month! I see that 95 percent of the calls are STD. Probably interstate offices calling each other collaborating on projects. I thought to myself, if I could only get a couple of cents off the STD call rate, I should get a substantial reduction on my phone bill. I contact several telcos and they all come in aggressively. Played the boardroom shuffle, got approval, signed the papers to move telco providers on a Thursday and we were on the new network by Monday morning. The users did not even notice that we had changed telcos! Great. Next monthly phone bill comes in at $26K. Wow! Extrapolated, I've just saved the company $230K per annum! Looks like they've already got their return on investment on my hire. Not bad for the first week's work!

I then turn my attention to Finance. What a mess! I find an eight-week implementation plan woefully behind schedule and struggling for completion. In all, 22 consultants were involved. How long has this project been going, I asked. I am told one and a half years! I never did believe those eight-week implementation sales pitches. A month and a half into the job I front up at the board meeting. I boldly announce at the board meeting that I will have their ERP stabilised in three weeks! They were impressed. My first BIG mistake. Six weeks later I stabilise the system and 18 months later the project is finally completed. Although it only took six weeks to take care of the technical side, it took me a further 18 months to change their processes!

With the new system they automated bad processes.

A bad process is a bad process whether it is automated or not. This just meant that they failed a lot quicker than before. I had to set up a committee, get buy-in from multiple stakeholders with conflicting needs and push this change management through while attempting to continue with business as usual on a half-finished implementation. Next time I make any promises to the board...I won't.

Three months on, Whew! I survive the probation period. I get an e-mail that the network is too slow and that "something has to be done urgently about it"! I calmly reply, "I'll look into it". I find that the Frame Relay WAN is overspeced but underperforming. But that's another story...

RA, Sydney
(By e-mail. Name and address supplied)

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