Work Stories – Having Faith? 


It’s 5pm and I’m leaving work. 

As i get up to put on my jacket, I notice that unusually everyone else is too, not just in my team but it seems that the full office is leaving. 

As I get to the central stairs, they are crowded when they are normally empty and it seems that the full building is leaving. 

Hmmm … I’m noticing a pattern. 

I ask one of my colleagues who is also leaving what’s going on?

It seems that there was a call within the management for voluntary redundancies three months ago and the people selected were told last week. 

Today all of the staff were emailed to attend a mandatory meeting with one of the U.K. Group directors later this week. 

Seems that there is a restructure and job losses on the horizon. 

I’m pleased to see that people are rightly voting with their feet, 5pm and we are outta here. 

Me, I’m self employed, I lost any delusions of loyalty to a company many many years ago. 

Work pays the wages, affords a lifestyle, but keep it in perspective and remember your real life is much more important. 

As I mentioned to my colleague,   If you get offered redundancy take it,  it’s not often that ordinary working class people get the chance to grab a lump sum and stash it in the bank.  

Don’t worry about being out of work,  there is lots of opportunity out there for anyone with sellable skills or determination 

Just get your CV updated and on the jobsites and the phone will ring. 

Have faith in yourself. 

Once the new job arrives spend half the redundancy on a holiday with the family or do something you always wanted. 

It’s only money.  Use it to buy time. 

4am and I’m wired to the moon. 

It’s cause and effect you see,   Early night Sunday,  up early yesterday,  out like a light last night and my awake switch flicked on at 3am today.  

I should sleep or I’ll probably be knackered  tomorrow but can’t. 

Better not turn the tv on!

Work Stories – Perspective?

It’s 530pm on Friday night, I’m sitting at my desk in the offices of the bank that I’m currently working as a consultant. 

I’ve been bought in because the project I’m working on is already a year late and 5 million over budget. 

Having worked on many projects at various banks, its just typical really.   

Management who think they know but don’t.  

They rely on undereducated wannabes who talk a good game but can’t really cut the mustard when it comes right down to making it work. 

I’ve been here two months, brought in at the last minute to sort it out. 

I’m putting together a Plan B as Plan A didn’t work and have been working my wee socks off, extra hours and even worked last Sunday. 

We are getting there, but there are still data migration and reporting issues. 

These need to be fixed asap so that the new system can go live as there are regulatory changes within the new system which haven’t been implemented in the old, because it was meant to be live by now. 

But at 530pm, I pull the headlines off,  look up and around and I’m the only one left, none of the staff, not one of the management who are telling us how critical this project is. 

So I fuck off home. 

The sun is shining in Glasgow and I’d  much rather be on a beach. 

Life’s been good so far … 

Management By Spreadsheet?

I’m working as a consultant in a small team dealing with the upgrade of the banks complaints handling system, the data migration between the old and new systems and the management reporting.. 

It was meant to be operational last summer and not only is it late but it is also way over budget, 

I’ve been here a month, my goal is to create a Plan B, that at least allows them to switch the new system on without creating all the new reports from Business Objects, but instead create extracts from the new system to match the inputs of the old reporting system and use these as an interim solution. 

Business Objects is a decent tool if it’s used correctly, but it’s often sold with the promise that anyone can create reports and it can be passed to non-technical business users to create any reports they need just by dragging and dropping. 

But that’s a lie .. or at least an fallacy created by salesmen so that they can sell high-value tools to management who like the idea of not relying on expensive technical staff. 

It’s a lie because, in my experience and in my current role, what is delivered to the end-user is a view of all their business attributes grouped into classes, but not necessarily with the intelligence and rules 

In typical IT fashion Business Objects call this view “the universe” .. ie everything that they user can see or is interested in.   

Personally I think calling it a “universe” is bond arrogance, there then ensues conversations about “changing the universe” … aye right .. plonkers! 

The main problem in my experience is that the “universe” which provides a layer between the end-users and the technical infrastructure is not fit for purpose.   

That is exactly the case here, the end-users have been given some basic training and left to create the reports, which behind the scenes generate all sorts of complicated database queries where not enough thought or effort has been put into the design of the universe, its objects, data tables and relationships. 

In this particular case, what has been delivered by an major external consultancy, is a collection of tables and relationships, but with absolutely no intelligence. 

What they have delivered Could have been created with the universe designer tool by simply selecting the database tables of interest and dragging them into the designer. 
As a consequence of this, the end users are expected to add all of the intelligence in the reporting tool which is an extremely cumbersome task for the complex reports required. 

It’s a complete joke. 

Meanwhile in my small team, we have a project manager, a senior project manager, an operational manager, an operational team leader and 6 business users who are expected to create the reports but don’t have the necessary skills. 

The managers all have regular meetings and compare notes on the spreadsheets that they have of defects and comparisons between the old and the new reports.

Every Wednesday they have a meeting with even more senior management to discuss progress. 

Every Tuesday they come round looking for updates so they can massage the figures to make sure it looks like progress is being made. 

These people are non-technical and incapable of adding any real value, they only chase defects and expect updates. 

There is progress, I will make this work with my Plan B, but they can’t even keep the spreadsheets up to date. 

I’ve just been into a meeting where one manager was trying to do the other to express their point of view. 

It’s a complete joke. 

But heres the bottom-line … 
 … The consultancy that delivered this nonsense are on a high retainer to get it in and keep it working .. but it doesn’t and they aren’t fixing it, no-one is managing their deliverables. 

… The other consultancy I work for are charging a fortune for me to come in and create a “parallel universe” as an interim solution, which will become the final solution as that will have the intelligence needed for the final reports.. 

Personally, I make good bucks out of this and I’m back working in Glasgow and home in 20 minutes. 

Sometimes you have to shut up and go with the flow .. 

But do you ever wonder how banks survive when they can’t manage relatively small projects like this? 

Work Stories – Grafters?

I’m working at the headquarters of a bank in Glasgow, I’m a consultant and only here on a temporary basis until their new system is up and running then I’ll go somewhere else.

As you may have read on my previous blog, its already late and over-budget .. am I bothered?! 🙂 

No, my job is to sort it out, plain and simple then I move on. 

Anyway, I’m sitting on a floor of a few hundred people, largely women working in their complaints handling department,. 

Every day there are desks full of cakes, chocolates and other goodies. 

Every day the break-out area is full of these women eating curries and pizza, there’s not a lot of salads or soups on display. 

The vast majority with rare exception are badly overweight, too much carbs, too little exercise. 

There’s one exception …

She’s small, wiry and .. before you think I’m describing some babe .. she’s the cleaner. 

She’s about 60 years old and on the go all day long, cleaning floors, desks, toilets. 

They say that to keep healthy, you should keep moving .. looking at the evidence there’s definitely truth in that. 

Work Stories – The Subtle Truth?

Sitting here at my desk in the headquarters of a bank in Glasgow, I’ve been here a month, brought in as a consultant to sort out a system that was meant to be delivered in summer last year, its still nowhere near yet, but I have a Plan B.

Without boring you with all the details, they are replacing one of their main banking systems, upgrading the version of the software, migrating the data across and changing the reporting technology form Excel and Access to Business Objects.

Business objects is a reporting tool that creates a “semantic layer” between the end users who generate the reports and the complex transactional database.

It’s supposed to make things simple, unfortunately in my experience thats hardly ever the case because the BO developer don’t make any effort to understand the business or spend time with the business users.

The current issues are that the the customisation of the new system and the migration of the old data is taking longer than required, the business objects universe provided is not fit for reporting purposes and the “super-user” team within the business who were then left to create the reports.have an impossible task.

Continue reading “Work Stories – The Subtle Truth?”

Work Stories – Wage-Slaves?

Standing on a train packed with workers returning from work,  most dressed in various shades of grey with their faces in matching pallid winter colours.  

There aren’t many on this journey with the permatan of the well paid management staff that I often work with.  

It’s just after 5,  at the bank I’m now working back in Glasgow.  No more travelling for a while. 

A few minutes ago, the  clocked ticked one 60th of a revolution and there was a flurry as the majority started to put coats on and head for the door. 

Does that demonstrate lack of commitment?   Because their work is backed up or project running behind?

Absolutely not.  

It demonstrates a sense of priority and commitment to family rather than employers who would have them working  24/7 if there wasn’t contract law dictating working conditions. 

It’s a balance,  you give what you have to to get the wage you need or the best wage you can get for your efforts. But it’s a job nothing else. 

Wage-slaves some smart ass once called them,  probably someone without a real job or a family to support,  a Tory or a champagne socialist up his own arse with his political ideals but completely forgetting that people have families to feed. 

Seems to me that the real wage-slaves are the management who stay late or work extra hours in the evening to catch up with stuff that they manage but don’t actually do. 

You know the type, management by spreadsheet,  sitting there in his nice suit colouring in the cells to highlight what’s complete and what’s outstanding.  

Like a professional monkey,  to him,  it’s a numbers game,  he barely knows the detail or the difference between the simple issues and more complex ones,  he just sees that he has so many green red and amber and they all need to be green. 

He completely relies on his staff to deal with the details. 

So why does he work these extra hours when he can’t actually deal with any of the issues or change anything in the spreadsheet?   

Let me tell you?

Because this manager has another manager and they spend most of the day talking high level bullshit that never really happens because to them it’s all about ticking boxes, not dealing with technicalities or dynamically changing issues. 

The boss manager,  he definitely has a permatan,  you know the type,  sharp suit,  grey hair,  always talking positive, but really doesn’t have a clue. 

Every Friday on dress down day, he thinks he’s Steve Jobs or designer man,  every item of clothing has a label from his Gucci shoes to his Marco Polo polo shirt. 

It’s designer,  it has to be,  it’s the mark that  he believes separates him from the masses, the ordinary workers who can’t afford to wear designer to work and are struggling to make ends meet enough as it is. 

But here’s the thing,   these management guys or gals are just like everyone else only they’ve sold out the time with their families for the corporate dollar. 

So what if they earn more, bigger house, bigger commitment, bigger divorce settlement or estate to leave to their kids that they barely know particularly if they’ve divorced and work too much to spend time with the kids. 

At the end of the day the most important thing a person has or can give you is their time. 

5pm and that clock ticks and I’ve got my coat on like everybody else. 

So should you!

The Opposite Of Red-Eye?


Sunday evening and I’m on the .. What’s the opposite of red-eye? .. Flight from Glasgow to London.
Work schmurk!!

I’ve had a lovely weekend, the right balance of family and friends, a curry and a few beers with friends on Friday, a day with family yesterday. my kids for dinner this afternoon. 

Who needs to be heading south at this time on a Sunday to start work at 9am on Monday?

I resent that flying down to London for work on a Sunday evening significantly eats into my personal time. 

It’s one thing working for a living but I think that work should be kept in perspective and ones real life is always much more important. 

The flight is full, no seats left and unusually for Easyjet, I’ve been allocated a seat number .. Or has that been happening for a while and I didn’t notice

Having a look around the passengers, most are travelling for business, commuting on the Sunday evening to avoid the Monday morning madness of the red-eye flight and then rushing across the city trying to get into the office at a reasonable time. 

Nah .. Fuck that!!

It’s just not worth the hassle. 

But sitting here onboard a flight at 7pm on a Sunday evening, away from family and the thought of living out of a suitcase for the week, it dawns on me that this isn’t worth it either. 

That’s the problem.

But never leave a situation with a problem, always consider the options and the solution.

Option 1 – Maintain the status quo, carry on regardless. 

Option 2 – Go back to working in Edinburgh and travelling 3 to 4 hours per day.

Option 3 – Take a job in Glasgow even if it’s not ideal, but be thankful with a commute of only an hour per day. 

There’s only one winner!

Real life is always much more important than work. 

The quote above from the Dalia Lama shows he had it sussed!