The Drudgery of Process

I’m in the kind of job where, according to best practices, I need finite processes defined for everything I do. Skipping past acquisition, in order to get a server ready to install an operating system, I have to request a place for the server to go, ask someone to install it in that place, ask for cables to be run to it, define what those cables do, submit a request for a unique address(s), and finally provision the operating system. Really, that doesn’t look so bad on paper. In fact, looking at it here I’m thinking, hey, jotting this stuff down really simplifies things. There is one problem, however. While there aren’t that many tasks that have to be done – not unnecessary tasks, anyway – I’m not actually doing any of them except for the last one. That means I’m depending (corporations teach us to use the word “leverage”) on a bunch of people to handle my individual tasks. So what could be taken care of in a matter of an hour, generally takes in excess of a week. Did I mention that I’m doing this for servers that reside in a lab environment? There are also details within each of those steps that further complicate the problem. Bad forms, disparate requests, and busy people. Granted, there are plenty of reasons why this kind of process is really helpful. It’s just that when I’m pinned as the responsible member of a process that is done primarily by people other than me, I have a gripe. Everybody has this problem somewhere in their life. I’m certainly no exception.

My resolution to this issue is to develop a single form that documents all of the needs for a server(s). The form would then be sent to all accountable members of the process for their respective parts. Information sharing is enabled between the working members and is not sought through the requester. At least not for processes that are occurring outside of the requester’s interests.

It’s a pipe dream, I suppose. Maybe the new acquisition will help (snicker!).


  1. Actually, you should come to my office one day. We have a similar process of getting a server “racked and stacked,” cabled, port turn ups, etc. I used to be exactly where you are in your thought process… now I work for the team doing the racking, cabling, etc. Since i’ve joined that team, its been my mission to make it an easier process. While the forms haven’t changed, I have educated people on how to properly use them. I think its resulted in a better flow, but there’s always room for improvement. I will say that without having our team do the racking and managing of the equipment in our datacenter, it would be a HUGE mess. We have over 6000 pieces of equipment in there now, and that makes up over 16,000 connections (power, network, fiber, etc) between devices. Anyhoo – I keep all that data in a fancy sql database with a fancy front end. I’d be happy to show it off to you sometime, but since it was developed at the company, its considered “intellectual property.” 🙂 I have, however, entertained the thought of developing a new version of it outside the company.

    Ok, I’m rambling. Back to work.

  2. Welcome to our world, Olaf!!!

    The problem is that we engineers are the hub and the spokes are networking, storage, facilities, etc. The long and the short of it is we have to do everything “boring” while each of the groups each press their one button. In truth, we should all be shouldering the misery, er load and those other groups that you and I depend on should revel in our drudgery. The SIP process going on right now aims to address this.

    Eric and I wrote a spreadsheet last spring to do exactly what you suggested though we can’t seem to get anyone to jump on it. I do know the process is actively being worked on though.

    Of course if you just hurry up and virtualize it all, then all of this goes away. Get crackin’, man! 🙂

  3. I don’t want to turn this into a *work* conversation but Brian hit the nail on the head. There was this metal that was discovered on the moon. That metal was beaten and beaten, heated and burned, worked and manipulated, and all manner of other things that you can do to metal…it morphed over time and became this magical hammer thing know as SIP.

    SIP will save us all. Or at least save a bunch of electrons from the drudgery of becoming useless forms and documents serving a thankless overlord that only cares about the paperwork and not the content or the outcome.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *