Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I am planning a very big important project at work. That software that the entire office needs in order to function: we're changing it. Everyone will be affected. There will need to be changes to workflow (because we are digitizing a whole lot of processes that were previously done on paper), hardware installations, and lots of training. It's going to be a huge change, and, even if it comes off without any technical hitches, people are going to whine, bitch, and complain for weeks, because that's what happens anytime there's a change of this magnitude.
The software was sold to me by a salesperson whom I trust. I worked with him for over a year, on and off, on this deal, and experience has taught me that he's intelligent, trustworthy, and thorough.
Finally our contract was signed. I was handed off to the implementation department. I got my first call from the head office in British Columbia, three time zones away. The department head spent half an hour on the phone with me sketching out a basic plan for data conversion and a staff training schedule. It seemed like a good start.
Five minutes after I finished speaking to the department head, I got a call from the Local Implementation Lady. (I shall refer to her as LIL.) I thought that she was calling to follow up on her boss's call. She was not. She was not aware that he had just called me. She started asking me all the same questions that I had just gone over with him. I felt annoyed because she was wasting my time, but she was so cheerful and friendly that after her call I felt a little guilty for being so irritated. I once worked for a company that had its head office in another province, and head office never kept me in the loop on anything. I thought "I should give her a chance."
So. Yesterday we had our first major (telephone) meeting regarding this project. The attendees were to be Lil, myself, and my two helpers on this project, let's call them Lee-anne and Joan. There had been a clear e-mail exchange in which Lil specified that she would phone me to begin the meeting. I called Lee-anne and Joan into my office at the appointed time, and we chatted while we were waiting for the phone to ring.
15 minutes later my phone rang. It was Lil. She said, in a gently scolding tone, "Running a bit late, aren't we?" I tried to determine what she was getting at. "Didn't you get my e-mails?" she asked. No, we were all sitting here waiting for you to call, as we had arranged.
I opened my e-mail and sure enough she had sent me an invitation to join a conference call. I told her that we would all just sit around my desk with the phone on speaker and that would do just fine. I was willing to let this hiccup slide.
However, over the course of the phone meeting, Lil completely undermined any confidence that I might have had in her. She was unprepared for the meeting. She couldn't remember what documents she had sent me, and hadn't carefully gone over the forms that I'd filled in and sent back to her. She kept asking me for information that was available in the completed forms.
By halfway through the call she'd forgotten our names. She started calling me Glittering Pink. Better yet, she merged Lee-anne and Joan into Jo-anne. I wasn't sure if she even remembered that they were two separate people.
Lil had no idea who our sales rep had been and didn't know that my technical experts had already had long conversations with the tech support department at her company.
She didn't seem to be listening very well when I explained our business to her. With a rapidly increasing sense that this woman was completely clueless, I tried to think of something that might help her to grasp the facts of our situation. I offered to have her over to our office for a walk-through, to meet "Jo-anne" in person (both halves of her) and get an idea of our environment. She said she didn't see why that was necessary "because it says here that your sales rep already did a walk-through". Sure he did, but she didn't even know his name 5 minutes ago, what good does that do her or us?
By the end of the phone call I deeply despaired of Lil's ability to pilot us through these uncharted waters. Joan and Lee-anne were having a hard time not laughing out loud as I mimed various gestures of frustration over Lil's cheerful, empty chatter. Lil seems to believe that her job is to soothe our "irrational fears" of change. Frankly I feel my fears are very well-founded.
Rest assured that no one is converting anything until I'm satisfied that our preparations are solid.
I got flowers to cheer myself up. Aren't they pretty?
Posted by Sparkling Red at 1:54 PM