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The Elephant In The Computer

March 4, 2021

A restaurant advertises that they “Serve anything you can think of.”

A man decides to test them. He walks in and says, “I’d like an elephant ear sandwich.

Sorry, we can’t help you.

I knew you didn’t have any elephant ears.

That’s not the problem

. . .

Opening call centers follows a pretty standard schedule. A good project manager can off the top of her head rattle off the key milestones and deliverables.

  • Circuits
  • PBX
  • Networks
  • Furniture
  • PCs

And if you are a member of a project team, you probably know exactly what needs to happen before your piece and who is waiting behind you. For example, you cannot put the computers on desks until the desks get built. The desks cannot be built until the wiring is in place. The wiring is dependent on data center being built out. Phones cannot be setup until the PBX (Phone server) is in place.

All the while, HR and recruiting are hiring agents. The timing of the first construction is typically tied to the first day of training. We built our the training rooms first. Training was typically a month or so. We had to have the production floor ready by the time training was finished.

And then came the pandemic. Like everything else, it changed how we build as well. Now we are doing our training virtually. And the production is done by agents working from home.

In some ways, this was great for our project team. No longer were we constantly being driven to the schedule of training and construction. In fact, with our new site in Boulder, CO we started right off with training before we even knew our construction schedule. And a delayed construction schedule meant we got to keep our budget. We didn’t have to go out and buy a bunch of equipment before we got our agents on the phones.

Win-win, right?

Almost. There is one piece of the final production that needs to happen before agents can take calls.


You cannot take calls if you don’t have a computer to work on. In previous projects computers, PCs, were always the last piece put in place. Now, they are the first. Naturally we were concerned with making sure we had enough PCs to get us through the first few classes. At that point our budget would be approved and we could buy more PCs.

My job as the IT guy was to make sure we didn’t run out of computers. It was something I worked on and thought about every week. So, it was not a surprise when one of my engineers brought up the fact that we were projected to fall behind in the coming weeks.

So, we are running short on computers?

Well, not exactly.

What do you mean?

Well, we’ve got plenty of computers.

Well, then what’s the issue?

We’re running short on monitors.

That was not what I had been asking. Wrong question.

The guy in the sandwich shop asked,

If you’ve got the elephant ears, what’s the problem?

Well, we ran out of those big buns we serve them on.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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