When you have two enormous projects coming to a head at one time and your day looks like this:
I had to put it on an Excel schedule grid to make it look right because Outlook can't really do that. It gets all scrunched plus it doesn't show what really happens during the day, just what is meant to happen at the beginning of the day which was really only booked from 9 - 3:30 on this day and only mostly double booked to start. I book myself from 7 - 9 because that's SUPPOSED to be triage. More and more people are finding me.
If a color is white it means I didn't get there or it didn't get done in that time slot. If a color is blue, it is the only thing I am doing. If a color is red, well, you can read them; it's a humanity thing and my days hardly ever look quite this extreme.
If a color is the color of bondo it means I was doing two things at one time. I can't call this multi-tasking because it isn't the truth.
You know, if you are in one meeting and a speaker is saying something but someone else might be part of the presentation, you are not multi-tasking just because you are watching them both. You are only multi-tasking if you have tuned one out maybe 95% and are just listening for your name. Or something. I do miss a lot though. This is what I tell myself. It sort of helps.
If a cell is yellow then I am actively engaged in three things and that's some bad shit.
Look at the 4 PM slot. That was the height of ugliness. Plus I was so hungry I thought I was going to pass out. The need to pee had passed hours ago and I'm pretty sure my ass was numb.
By the way, doing multiple things at one time is not bad. The bad part is this: Look at those gigantic conflicting time slots for ECR and Collibra. ECR UAT really just goes in the morning because it's supposed to be going live at the end of the month but then there was the director's meeting where we actually finally ADMITTED THAT THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL we're going live before the end of March and the entire end of project time line and resource requirements had to be rewritten and submitted to multiple people sorta ASAPish because I no longer own the resources and the little bastards have already started taking them out from under my nose.
Collibra is imploding. Not the product, the project. They've been an isolated team since, forever? I don't know. I've been ignoring them because I took everything else but then they failed to produce anything of value and suddenly I owned them and they still failed to produce anything of value and I started to have heart failure and I put my boss in a box and he may never forgive me but if I can't save his life I can, at the very least, save the project, which is going nowhere.
The thing about these two projects regardless of where they are in their respective timelines is that both require my full attention right this second. I walk out of the room, virtual or otherwise for one second and shit blows up. In ECR UAT the only reason my head is still on my shoulders is BECAUSE we are not going to make it to Prod on time (not us) and because somehow Jalpa missed the part about migration schedules and migration requirements she didn't realize you couldn't just raise your hands and say, hey! we're ready to go now and none of the rest of us thought we had to tell her. Jalpa owns the project timeline, we, I can never really tell how many we are, own the pieces parts.
Um. Hmm. OK, It's changed, So, me, I build and maintain the hierarchies (OK, my team does). IT (who exactly is IT these days) takes my hierarchies, feeds them to the Fact tables, does shit to them and maps the leaf level members to, I guess it's the nSAP feed, and the Business provides the data and the hierarchy definition and properties to us and the mapping to them and.... ah, those are the guys that build the Essbase cube from which OBIEE reporting spits forth. We all have to work very carefully together so that nothing gets fouled up.
Somehow in there somebody is supposed to know that UAT has to be thoroughly documented (with 8x10 color glossies with charts and arrows on the back) and paperwork with a gazillion signatures submitted to the migration team at IT (who exactly is IT these days) on the Tuesday before the NEXT Thursday that you want to migrate. And also, you cannot migrate during the first Thursday of any month because of where that Thursday falls in the close. And also the business will need at least three weeks to complete UAT when ALL of the data is loaded before you can even begin putting the migration submission package together WHICH will be torn apart with an icepick followed by several toothpicks. And a pie fork.
As of LAST Thursday which was February 8 we did not have all of the data which means that UAT had not officially started. The date for migration to Production on the calendar was February 15. I was waiting for someone to say it. I had already alerted N. (it's not us, don't worry and thank you for the heads up) To get to a Feb 15 migration we would have had to submit our paperwork on February 6. Jalpa still wanted to make the end of the month. So we migrate on Feb 22. That means we sign off fully documented on Tuesday, Feb 13 and they have one day to do three weeks of testing and one day to put the paperwork together. Yes. No. Yes. No. YES!!! OK, talk to me when you have data and in the mean time I will have Brian fix his error.
Which brings me to the error. While I was not looking at ECR UAT, Uday said, I don't like that the properties in DRM don't match the properties in the FRD. He sent the email to me, Brian and Aparna. I made a REALLY FUCKING POOR DECISION.
Uday USED TO report to IT (who exactly is IT these days) but since this massive reorg happened he no longer reports to IT and is intrinsically an orphan who is on loan to ME because my team no longer belongs to me either, they have been reorged to the same place Uday has been placed and instead of swapping out the project manager they've left in the same horse. Uday now reports to me in this context. I THOUGHT Uday raised the issue with his project manager but he did not. WTH, Uday? So for two days no one but me and my now grown by 1/3 size team knew that Brian was not working on the Intake tool because Uday as upset about the properties EVEN THOUGH WE HAD A SIGN OFF FROM THE BUSINESS.
When I brought it up on Thursday, the first time I'd been back to a UAT session I thought Jalpa was going to take several pounds of flesh. If Jalpa wasn't my friend I probably would have been beaten senseless in the parking garage and I would have had it coming.
Brian - You have two days to complete five days of work. Do it now.
Jalpa - This thing is not going live. Please. Can't we just let him off the hook?
Alecto - Do you really want to be the one this project hangs on?
Jalpa - I do not. He will get it done.
Brian - get it done. I will buy you a case of, um, something. Don't fuck this up.
Later - Elizabeth, I totally fucked this up and now I'm killing Brian.
Alecto, I know you are. I can see him over there. You really screwed the pooch on this one.
Thanks for not throwing your team under the bus. I would have had to kill you for that.
So you see why I had to leave the Collibra sessions. You can see, right? You can see there was no way I could leave Brian, and Uday, and Aparna alone in there. It's too much to ask of them even if they can ping me. It's not fair, especially this close to the end. And it's good that I didn't because I got to be there while Jalpa twisted and turned on the rope of denial while IT, OK, I think that's Nancy and Dan walked her through the dates over and over again and she finally came to the conclusion that the migration date was going to be on March 15 even though John put his face in his hands and said if Kanwar could march his guys through that fast, he'd be, well he'd just be WRONG. I didn't care. Brian could finish the first week of March which was the next open window.
In the director's meeting one of the directors asked Jalpa if she wanted to ask for an extension one time or two times.
Once, I thought, I only want you to ask once and I want you to get it right and please oh please oh please
And there was silence and N said
OH FUCK MY LIFE
Yes, N, I'm here.
Alecto is my release manager and I expect she's got her arms fairly well around this. Alecto, based on the release schedule for these migration windows and the close schedule, when will this project go to production?
OH FUCK MY LIFE
N, I believe this project will migrate to production on March 29 assuming we can have complete sign off from all parties wrapped up and turned over to IT on March 20 and I don't see a problem with that.
Alecto, how much of a buffer does that leave you?
N, that leaves us with a buffer of one week to accommodate the close and any issues we might encounter in the initial data tie which isn't complete yet and the system migration.
Alecto, are you comfortable with this?
N, I'm never comfortable but we can do this.
Alecto, I guess I meant are you willing to commit the team to this?
Yes, I will commit the team to this.
Meanwhile my IM is WAY TOO QUIET.
Crickets from everyone except for the Colibra working session, something horribly wrong has started up over there and I can't quite work out what but I have SOS messages from two of my newly minted senior developers and finally this.
I don't want to work here anymore.
He did not just send me that. He doesn't say things like that. What the hell just happened?
It is now 11 AM and I have been in my seat for four hours. I would give quite a bit to have two of those hours back. Not as a do over, I just need two more hours in that particular space.
I want to ask N, N, please, did you just make me responsible for the outcome of ECR? You cannot possibly have meant that. I only own the DRM part of it and even now, I don't own DRM anymore and the DRM people are being sneaky and assigning my resources to other projects which means they're too stretched to do this job much longer and now I have to go tell them they aren't getting Aparna back quite as soon as expected. I think I'll not think about it but I do think I'll have to grab that timeline and pretend I'm the release manager at least in my head.
FUCK MY LIFE I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SHIT
And I now have hard proof that my boss has lost his mind. We have a new resource starting on Monday. No one else interviewed this guy. No one has seen his resume. We have heard conflicting stories about his skill set and they don't exactly make sense.
- IF you are a solution lead then you MUST have data governance knowledge. Solid data governance knowledge.
- IF you are a Collibra Solution Lead you must also have working knowledge of the product. Better working knowledge then I have which means you had better be a developer (I'm getting there).
- IF you are an SL, then your skill sets MUST contain the front end because that's the part the user uses.
- IF you tell me the SL only knows the backend I am going to be mighty suspicious because the one backend developer we do have, and he's quite good, doesn't know jack about data governance in context. He's tremendously good at creating the custom workflows you want using groovy script and whatever else he's got in his toolbox but he couldn't tell you why the happy path has to go this way and that way and why this Master Data Change Request needs three approvals in a blackout period and that doesn't need much at all and he can do amazing things with that library over there but an asset is an asset, whatever, just tell me where you want it.
So you're going to tell me that Ravi is a Solution Lead, can talk to the customer, figure out what they need, design the solution, feed it to the team in chunks but he doesn't do any front end work?
I don't think you know what the fuck you just hired. Thank god it's a consultant. The last one had to be sent back on day three. Wonder how long this one will last?
I'm scared. I asked Robin to invite me to a meeting because I saw the meeting on my boss's calendar. It's really bad when I find out about a project when it lands in my lap. So I came to the meeting and I listened to my boss agree to insanity. I didn't say a word. Surely there must be some mistake. Robin kept saying, don't worry about those dates so I did not. Mike kept assigning velocity points that also didn't make sense. How the hell was that much work going to get done by him and a new, untried resource in two weeks? I just shut up. At the end of the meeting he told me to get together with Robin and rewrite the stories (small chunks of project) so that they made sense.
The dates were mostly accurate and the dependencies stretch right into April. Holy shit. I had to fix some of it because the stories in the first two weeks didn't work. I dropped the velocity points and questioned her final deliverable for the sprint on the 28th. Yes, that is cast in stone. Are you telling me he can't deliver this? I can't tell you that. If he says he's going to do it then that's on him. I'll just have to make sure nothing else falls on his plate.
I published the stories, sent him an IM and asked if he was completely clear about this.
OK, I'm going to email this to you. I want you to be really sure you're ok with his because if you aren't, you need to tell Robin.
I'm fine. Ravi will hit the ground running.
OK, email on it's way.
And then what I have come to refer to as goo (because I cannot keep saying shit, it has simply lost all meaning at this point) hit the fan. The Collibra experts told them what they were trying to build was insane. This thing we just told the Decomm team we would deliver before June after months of screwing around and missing deadlines on the original project. After setting up the infrastructure to work with five business units for the next four months, we collapsed that project and rebuilt it to be just the two pieces required to satisfy Decomm.
Decomm is the decommissioning of a freaking god awful enormous system because the replacement they stood up last year can do 80% of the work - the trick is to find the 20% in all it's bits and pieces and rebuild it into the replacement and I have to tell you, that's a terrifying dance - there is no such thing as a lift and shift in this game. Best I can tell, there are over 200 moving parts of this system left over AFTER the analysis part where we took a very large sword and started hacking off limbs before we took the scalpel and carved out what was needed. Mike's Collibra team was already working on a project (that was apparently going nowhere) which was inserted into Decomm with the promise that he'd get to the Decomm part before June 12 but with zero project plan because he was a pilot Agile project.
I was sent in when it fell down.
fuck my life on a smaller scale until I realized he didn't know how to build it and then everything became measured in increments of goo. How deep is the goo today? Nose level? Well that's not so bad. What can you tell me about the splatter pattern of the goo from that last meeting? Really? A straight arc to the back wall? Sounds like someone's throat was cut with a very sharp instrument.
So. Much. Goo. The Collibra experts told the team this was a very, very bad idea and I wasn't there to hear it. During the debrief Mike ran away and when they got tired of waiting for him and wanted to end the call I suggested they just start without them. They let me know exactly what they heard. I wrote it all down. When he finally came back I repeated it to him. He denied it. That's when the IMs started flying back and forth.
OMG! What is wrong with that man?!
I can't take this anymore. Everyone is so negative. They haven't learned anything in all these months, they're useless.
I feel like I'm dying. Everything is falling apart and we have no leadership. I don't know what to do. Alecto, please! You've never let anything like this happen before.
And then the bombshell.
Don't worry, Ravi starts on Monday and then you'll have an extra set of hands full time.
Mike! No they won't! Both you and Ravi are allocated 100% to Robin's project the minute he walks in the door.
THAT'S NOT TRUE!
I sent it to you! I was in the meeting with you. Look in your email.
WHO WROTE THESE STORIES?!!!
Robin wrote them, you approved them, you put the points on them and at your request Robin and I cleaned them up. I actually dropped the points and spread the dates out so that you could do them. The February 28 date is a hard date and the plan waterfalls off that and right into April. It isn't negotiable. You'll need to get on the client's schedule very quickly to make this work.
I never agreed to this. Ravi is only 50% outside projects.
Well, he has 35 points next sprint and the max for anyone ever is 26 and that's a high velocity performer like Jason and even those roll forward. Those 35 points were originally higher. If that isn't 100% I don't know what you think he's going to do over here but we can't say that the Collibra team has help in the next two weeks because they don't. Also, I can send you the whole plan, I think your name and Ravi's are all over it.
I have the plan.
The IMs had stopped so I sent one out to the two of them but they bounced back. They'd actually gone offline at 4:30 and 3:30 respectively. One of them came back later but he lives in CST so I'm guessing he didn't think it was fair to run for the door just yet.
I called Elizabeth and we talked for an hour.
I named the project Fluffy. Fluffy is a two ton bus with a great deal of very dirty, greasy fur. Fluffy slobbers and thinks it's a lap bus. It likes to have its belly rubbed and it needs to be walked about once an hour. It has a hot pink rhinestone collar and a matching leash. It's a very SHORT leash; we need to get Fluffy under control, whatever that looks like.
There will be a risk review this week. Somehow I'm supposed to have gotten past the fact that I think I'm betraying Mike and Mike is absolutely going to feel betrayed but I'm beyond trying to save anyone at this point.
I have to deal with Fluffy. Mike is holding Fluffy securely in his lap and rubbing Fluffy's greasy belly. I'm not sure Mike has realized the bulk of Fluffy cut off his oxygen supply a couple of weeks ago. Also, Fluffy is now sitting on Mike's team. Fluffy is trying to roll its butt over on me the same way my cat does on the couch but I'm not having any of it. If Fluffy rolls over on me I'll be less than useless.
I have a short triage list for tomorrow morning (in case you were wondering, this is generally, but not always what I mean by triage). I'm just not sure how to order it. If I'd managed to meet with the team at the beginning of the day things might go differently but I'm going to be meeting with the team at the end of the day. Right in the middle of Mike's review with N.
- Get Fluffy's hair balls out of decomm, swab the deck
- Put ECR in a box and prepare to pack her up - automate Brian's bug report
- Write every single story for Sprint 32 with full velocity and prepare to submit on Tuesday
- Start sprint 8 for Collibra - Fluffy proof it
- Backlog the Collibra project plan out through June - Fluffy proof it
- Backlog Robin's project plan out through April - identify possible signs of Fluffy egress
- Check Mike's calendar for any signs of meetings I should attend
- Get template from Elizabeth and prepare the risk assessment on all three projects
That's not a very short list is it? Maybe some hair clippers?