Weeknote 13: Change control (Week 10, 2018)

This week has been dominated by two things:

  1. Windows 10 device builds. Lots of them.Several piles of Microsoft SurfaceBooks
  2. Change Control.

The first part is the easy bit. I have an eager team of build engineers, led by a committed and diligent Consultant to help with that. The second part has resulted in more than its fair share of pain.

As the client-side Programme Manager remarked to me, there are two types of change to manage: change that needs budget and resources and agreement; and “things we need to tell you about”.

The changes I’ve been fighting with are certainly in the “things we need to tell you about” category: minor edits to user account information in Active Directory made on an individual user (or small group of users) basis. Such changes are easily reversed but need to be communicated (to users, and to those who support them – so they are ready for any consequences).

Unfortunately, in order to make this minor change (admittedly a few thousand times), I have to complete a form that’s really designed for much heavier changes, submit it at least a week ahead of when I want to make the change (which is not very agile), attend various meetings to provide information, have multiple conversations outside the process to smooth the path of the change, stand on one leg, do a little dance and make incantations (OK, I made the last part up).

And, as one former customer replied:

Change control has its place but sometimes it feels like a lightweight process should be there for the “things we need to tell you about”-type changes. When I completed my ITIL® Foundation training, people said “you’ll breeze it Mark, it’s just common sense” – and it is. Unfortunately, it seems to me that many people use ITIL as a reason to wrap themselves in unnecessary layers of bureaucracy. There’s also a natural tension between those who are tasked with designing new and improved services and those who need to operate services. One wants change. One wants to avoid change. And, where outsourced services are in place, there are commercial reasons not to make any changes too.

Next week, I’ll find out how successful I’ve been. If I’m lucky, we’ll get approval two days after we need it. I’m not adding to my pain by making an urgent or emergency change (I’m not a masochist) but I have recorded an issue in the PM’s RAID log…

Elsewhere

Other encounters this week have included:

  • Night-time mountain-biking in the woods (helping out with my eldest son’s cycling club) – that was fun!
  • FUD from my younger son’s school around GDPR.

Needless to say, I’ll be ignoring the (poorly-written) communication from the school. Why expect me (as the user of the service) to take action to help the organisation tidy up their data when they have clearly misunderstood their obligations?

Now, it’s the weekend. It’s been another very long week. My train is nearly at Northampton and I feel the need to collapse on the sofa before I fall asleep. The weekend will be a mixture of “Dad’s taxi” and Mothering Sunday (helping my boys be nice to their Mum, and hosting my Mum and my Mother-in-law for lunch). Then back to work for round 2 of “change control”.

Weeknote 12: 50/50 (Week 9, 2018)

So, after getting weeknote 11 out early and supplementing it with a “weeknote 11a”, I’m writing weeknote 12 the following Monday morning, on the train, which kind of defeats the object of a weeknote to wrap up the week.

To be honest, last week was a bit… well, I don’t know how to describe it. Busy, stressful, cold, fun (in parts) – and the weekend that followed had all the same elements.

Highlights included a long-overdue catch-up with @DavidHughes, watching my 13yo’s first cycling session on rollers and towing my 11yo around on a sledge hooked up to the back of a mountain bike.

Unfortunately, I also fell down the stairs at home and broke the screen on my Surface Pro 3 (the two incidents were unrelated).

My work was also split between two projects – with a “critical design review” for the supplementary information system built around Microsoft SharePoint and Power BI. The technology is the easy part – getting individual subject matter experts to work together (it’s not four designs – it’s one solution) has been more challenging.

In the second part of the week, I got properly stuck into my Modern Workplace project (part-time has not been cutting it – it really demands my full attention). We have some demanding timescales for the first phase and it’s all hands to the pump. That means I’ve rolled up my sleeves and got stuck into establishing the build processes and workflow. Just like these delivery robots, I wasn’t letting the snow put me off…

I “battled” to the station (more accurately, drove along some gritted roads with a slight snow covering and some drifts at the side), caught a delayed train (so still got to my destination at the intended time) and got to my customer site (which was like the Mary Celeste…), only for the customer to close the site at lunchtime and send us home – but I still needed to image another pile of SurfaceBooks! It was frustrating but it was also a self-imposed deadline – we just need to catch up over the next few days instead.

On the tech front, I have some thoughts bouncing around my head that haven’t quite formed into blog posts yet… again, two halves – one work-related and one personal:

  • One is about the use of collaboration tools at work (like Microsoft Teams) in place of email. Putting the tech in place is easy. Getting people to use it is not. I’m still getting documents sent to me attached to an email message.
  • The second relates to a remortgage. After getting the mortgage approved in principle, we’re into conveyance with a management company in front of a “panel” of solicitors. They phoned and texted and gave me 24 hours to complete an online form (that didn’t save progress and didn’t gracefully handle input errors) after which I had to print it, sign it (with witnesses) and send it off to a solicitor. It’s a complete mis-match of digital (done badly) and analogue. An anti-pattern for digital transformation if I ever saw one…

Right. Nearly at my destination now, so time to sign off. I’ve got some PCs to build before I switch back into architect mode!