Archive for June, 2011

What happened at my latest assignment

June 12, 2011

I’ll get back to tech. writing soon, but first my last thoughts about my ‘old’ job:

I’m writing separately about my experience with IBM in general, and here specifically about my last assignment.
Before I even showed up at my new assignment, I told them that I had already scheduled a week of vacation (first week in March) — plane tickets bought and everything, and I made no secret of that. I arrived to find that I did not have any access — either to the building itself, nor to the computer network; it took over two weeks to get everything installed and access granted (less time for the physical access, but coming to my desk did not permit me to get any work done, only attend meetings). While I was on vacation, I got an e-mail that requirements were due for my new assignment that day — not only did I get the e-mail while I was known to be out of the office, the e-mail was sent on the due date, not before.

Well, I worked as I could, learning new technology, as well as a new environment — new people, new processes (or lack thereof), new red tape…

Here is the bragging section: I started with minimal knowledge of some of these, and by the end, I had written a new method for a web service, using a framework I was unfamiliar with, communicating with the database via Hibernate (another first, for me), and also modified the client application to call the web service, and changed the UI, using JGoodies (new — though how much use of that is open for debate) — I worked on almost every layer of this n-tier architecture, Java application, using Java version 1.5 on the client, and only 1.4 on the server, running on Websphere 6.1 (new), coding in RAD 7.0.1. And the entire infrastructure was a mystery to me — I’ve never seen a diagram, yet. All the while, I navigated, a new social and political landscape — sometimes more successfully, sometimes less.

When it came to the Thursday before the due date, I had made clear that things weren’t all right, and finally let it be known clearly that the project wouldn’t be done this week, even to the point of taking the (personal) initiative to call the project manager’s boss on the phone and say, “this isn’t feasible.” So I was asked, “well, could you work the weekend.” (Note there is no question mark on that sentence — it wasn’t really a question.) Not knowing any of the players, and without any offered assistance, without communication with the people who needed to approve, that would be difficult. Arrangements were made to make two people available, and I was led to believe a third, who had key knowledge, but when I called him, repeatedly, on Saturday, he told me in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t help. By five o’clock Saturday, I’d accomplished more than I thought possible, but still called the final contact and said, “here’s where things are, and here is where they will stay — I won’t work on Sunday, and we’ll finish next week.”

It still took until Tuesday, but it was done. Then some support was given while the project was promoted, and for the next month after that, I sat and did nothing, because there was no work to do… So explain to me again why it was so important to do that last job in a rush??

That’s the most I’m going to complain, except for this — last week, I’m told there was an “all-hands” meeting (to which I wasn’t invited, and it wasn’t just me — there was at least one other person); one of the areas discussed was communication, but the meeting wasn’t communicated to everyone. [You can put your own emoticon, or exclamation here.]

Contrast that with starting my new job: I got two e-mail msgs the week before letting me know where to go and who would have my new laptop, and my initial account set-up. There was still a snafu along the way — isn’t there always? But requests for access were granted in short order and I was contributing and productive by the 3rd day.