Quick and easy, redefined

Head of the Finance department returns from an ERP vendor's convention and sends a message to IT -- "Could someone come by for a quick and easy request?" -- and it's this pilot fish who handles the ticket.

"I signed up for a special preview of the new Business Intelligence Control Panel for our accounting package," Finance chief says when fish gets to his office. "I thought I'd invite you to drop by and download it on my PC this afternoon."

OK, says fish hesitantly, let's look at the documentation. He pulls down the 80-page program guide. Turns out there are 30 pages of instructions for installing a new relational database instance on a server, creating a data warehouse, setting up user security, replicating data from the production dataset in the ERP system into the data warehouse and finally connecting the new BI Panel to the newly created and populated data warehouse.

This is a little more complicated than just "download to your desktop and install," fish explains. It's really an infrastructure project.

Finance chief is skeptical, but after fish walks him through the installation documentation page by page, he tells fish to put together a provisional project plan. Then fish sets up a call with the vendor's tech-support desk to go over any bumps. One key thing he learns: For the initial replication, everyone needs to be out of the production dataset for the ERP system.

"I set up the data warehouse and pre-populated it from a snapshot, so we were ready to replicate production data," says fish. "I told the Finance chief to make sure everyone was logged out of the ERP system before close of business, and stayed after hours to do the replication.

"The replication promptly errored out and failed."

Fish checks the database manager. There's one connection: the Finance chief's PC. Fish resets the session, but the Finance chief's ERP client restarts it automatically. Fish can't shut it down remotely for security reasons, and the Finance chief's door is locked.

Fish explains the failure in a note to the Finance chief -- who calls fish in the next morning and chews him out. "I'm going to have to talk to the IT director about this," says Finance chief. "This should have been a simple download and install, and you've done nothing but delay, delay, delay!"

Reports fish, "We finally got the production data replicated when the Finance chief left town for another vendor seminar.

"The morning after it was finally up and running, our boss forwarded an email the Finance chief sent from his seminar. He had another 'quick and easy request' he wanted IT to take care of as soon as he got back."

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