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Ready, Fire, Aim!

August 14, 2014

A panel van is good for many things. For example, I have a friend with a panel van who uses it to move equipment. He paints “Free Candy” on the side during Halloween as a joke.

What panel vans are not known for is great visibility. Randy, a friend of my dad’s told me of an experience he had with his panel van. He was turning left out of a parking lot. But since his van was angled to the left already, it was impossible for him to see traffic coming from his right. Fortunately, he had a friend sitting in the passenger side seat who could see the oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, his friend wasn’t particularly good at sequencing.

We have a particular login process that our agents have to follow at the beginning of their shift. It’s about a 7 minute process, if it happens exactly correctly. At one point agents enter their credentials into a webpage and click LOGIN. Unfortunately this particular webpage gives no indication that it’s actually logging the agent on. That wouldn’t be too bad except that this page takes about 40 seconds to load.

As anyone who’s ever sat and stared at a spinning globe while a web page loads can tell you, sometimes you click on the button again. In the case of this particular page, clicking the button a second time doesn’t do good things.

Sequencing is a big part of what a project manager does. There are dozens of pieces that go into a project plan. I have to track multiple deliverables from a half dozen different departments.

But, tracking the deliverables is only a portion of a good project plan. In addition I need to track which pieces of the plan need to happen before other pieces. Last week as we were driving to complete the latest phase of my project, I had to deal with a wireing crisis on Monday, a week before we were supposed to be done. I realized that if we didn’t get the wiring closet done on time, the network group wouldn’t be able to get the switches configured on time. If the switches didn’t get configured on time, the desktop team wouldn’t be able to image the desktops in time and we would miss our date a week later.

Sequencing is critical to a project.

Just as it’s critical to our agent login process. If during the 40 second delay the agents grow impatient and click the LOGIN button a second time the login process immediately fails and they have to start over. Even with lots of coaching we constantly have to remind agents to NOT CLICK THE BUTTON AGAIN.

At least the agents don’t cause physical harm to anyone when they screw up the sequencing.

The guy sitting in the passenger seat of that panel van didn’t understand sequencing either. There were two pieces of critical information he had to communicate to the driver.

1. When to pull out into traffic
2. A truck was currently headed their way

Unfortunately for my dad’s friend the passenger screwed up the sequence. What he said was:

Go for it! . . .after this truck

Just getting the information released isn’t enough. You have to get the order right.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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