Remember once upon a time I mentioned that I had a j-o-b? Most of the time the stress or worry from my job doesn't interfere with life outside the office (other than the fact that I telecommute). This week, though, has been a little different.
I picked up some new responsibilities at work recently. One is to propose and manage enhancements to a monthly scorecard, and the other is to actually OWN and manage the scorecard. Since the time I began working on the enhancements, the scorecard has gone to twice-a-month. Getting the scorecard published isn't particularly time consuming - oh, sure, at first it is because I'm learning all the ropes, but soon enough it'll be second nature. No, the real challenge about this scorecard is that even though we have a stated service level to get the scorecard published by the 10 calendar day of the month, in reality we are trying to get the scorecard published ASAP. Which means that as soon as all the data is ready to be validated, at least two people have to drop what they are doing and make this the #1 priority in their day. If there are errors, the developers have to make fixing it the #1 priority of their day. After it's been reviewed, then I have to review the scorecard and physically upload it to the appropriate directory, and then generate a scorecard communication and have it sent to the scorecard audience. And that becomes my #1 priority of the day.
So you guessed it: twice a month at least four people have to go through a scorecard fire drill.
My frustration is that ASAP isn't a service level. The 10th day...that's a service level. If we can get the scorecard published by the 5th day, or the 6th day, or whatever, then we should say so, and plan to that. There has to be wiggle room for correcting errors, and unanticipated delays, but from a business process point of view, this shouldn't be a fire drill.
And yet for some reason I've yet to fathom, we haven't fought back hard enough, or with the right arguments, to change the situation. And oh by the way this is not a customer-impacting event. There are others who depend on the information that is produced through the scorecard, but they can't really plan either because we produce it on a different day each month. There is a trust that develops when you bring consistency to a process. You can count on certain things happening at certain times. The garbage is always picked up Thursdays. Mail is always delivered by 5pm daily. Street cleaning is done the 2nd Wednesday of the month. And maybe it's just me, but how can I plan anything around a delivery date that changes for each cycle of an event? Does it do me any good if it's earlier? What if, as the recipient, I can't get to it until the 9th or 10th day anyway? Producing it on the 5th or the 7th doesn't do anything for me. Is the 10th day really the best service level? I don't know if we know that for sure.
I'm still trying to put together the right argument. This is helping.
And here's another bit: because of this self-imposed-by-the-team fire drill, I am probably electing to NOT take a planned vacation day Monday so we can "maybe" produce an update if a certain set of data is published because that certain set of data wasn't available to us in time for the fire drill. If we were marching to our original 10th day SLA, it wouldn't be an issue and we wouldn't have to do this twice. I'm still up in the air about Monday. I don't feel good about it, though, and I actually lost some sleep about it last night. It's been a very long time since that's happened.
What's special about Monday? Nothing, really, just an opportunity to spend some time with a couple of women I like and a road trip to the Outer Banks for the day. That's not really the point, though. More, the point is that this is a brand new (as of last week) set of responsibilities for me and I don't want it to fall apart the first time I take time off.
On the other hand, this isn't life or death. I think I'll take the vacation day as planned :)