I should have been excited. For two months I’d been working with my team to prepare for a client audit. Normally our security team travels to our remote locations for the security audit.
To prepare for an audit, I have to work with about a half dozen different teams; desktop, network, security, facilities, account management, email, identity management.
To pass an audit, every team needs to complete a series of pre-audit tasks. (Man, does this sound boring as I write it.) Anyway, it wasn’t boring because I arrived the day before the audit in Kentucky and every single team still had pre-audit tasks that were not yet complete. I didn’t have a single team that I could mark as 100% done.
Our project has been a rush job from the beginning. Normally it takes 90-120 days to bring up a new call center. With this one we had 75 days. And they kept carving pieces off my schedule.
First, it took the contracts team an extra 10 days to get the contract for the building signed. That time seems like it’s not that big a deal because it comes off at the beginning of the project. You are still weeks and weeks away from the go live dates. But, like the last seat in a chain of roller coaster cars, you know that the bottom is going to drop out at some point.
Then, the previous tenant took an extra week to vacate the building. That might not have seemed like a problem, except the previous tenant was also one of out clients in another location. If we played hardball in Kentucky, we’d have to make up for it in another state.
Since we build call centers all the time, we have a pattern. We know what needs to be done. One of the items that always gives us headaches is turnstiles. We have a subway style turnstile that you have to go through to get onto the production floor. The turnstile is controlled by a card reader.
We ordered this turnstile weeks and weeks before we were going to need it. We had been burned too many times in the past with delays related to turnstiles.
Yesterday was our audit. Guess which pieces still wasn’t done as our clients came walking through the door? They almost turned around and walked out.
Clearly we came too early. You’re not ready.
Wait, let’s go and look at the classrooms and we’ll give Tony a chance to resolve this little glitch.
I gave Tony a “You’re killing me” look as the client headed down the hall. The day before the audit, our five classrooms were two days away from being ready to use. They were full of boxes, we had headsets still in packages. There was bits and pieces of wire, packaging, drywall, and any number of other things scattered around.
As the project manager, I don’t have a lot of skills (The Day I Found Out I Had No Skills.) So, I did lots of the unskilled labor. I swept, dusted, vacuumed, hauled trash.
All the time as I was running a vacuum around another set of tables, in the back of my mind was my list of 20 items that still needed to be done. And the only item on my list I could accomplish myself was cleaning the room.
Slowly as the evening turned into night and night into predawn, we reached a point where I knew we were going to make it. Well, I thought I knew because Tony told me the turnstiles were done.
At 6:30 AM I went home to my hotel, showered and changed into a coat and tie.
I probably would have done better during the audit if I hadn’t been running on zero sleep and a cross-country flight the day before.
When we came back from the classrooms, Tony had the turnstiles working.
Okay, that’s good enough. You pass. You can start your training classes next week.
I should have been excited. I should have felt like celebrating. Instead all I felt like was sleeping.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.