|Taking ownership||KEVIN RESCHENBERG|
Nothing PeopleSoft-specific today, although this applies to us also. Just a little
story. You may have seen it a hundred times.
A friend of mine is a relatively inexperienced programmer supporting the user interface (web) part of an internal
application run by hundreds of users. He says that there is a performance
problem. The system seems to freeze. A couple of users have complained about it,
and keep complaining.
This is the sort of thing that I personally enjoy tracking down. Wish I worked there.
Well, actually, maybe not...
It appears that this problem has existed for
a very long time but that most of the users didn't bother reporting it. (I'm sure they
gripe about it, but just not to the people who could do anything about it.) My friend's
part of the system was the main suspect. But tests showed that it probably wasn't causing the
issue. Maybe it was a problem with one of the SQL stored procedures? But at this company only
the DBAs are allowed to deal with those. So the DBAs were brought in, but they pointed
their fingers back at the front-end system. Or maybe the problem is with underpowered hardware?
Now the server people are involved.
It's possible that a procedure performed by users in a certain group is exacerbating the issue.
When approached about the possibility, they get defensive and fire
off angry emails stating their intention not to change anything.
Another person in the group could be helping but, sensing impending doom,
runs for cover, always claiming to be "working on other issues."
Naturally, there are project and system and whatever managers and now they're feeling the heat.
Emails fly. Meetings are called. It's a crisis! Everybody's involved.
Except that nobody seems to be doing anything, because nobody can cover the whole issue.
Some part of the issue is always somebody else's turf. A test was proposed, but it would
involve an environment owned by yet another group, so that idea was rejected. And defensive people are reluctant
to look at their own piece of the system to see if anything's wrong there.
I enjoy problem-solving, and system performance issues such as this are especially fun for me.
(OK, maybe that's weird.) But without the ability to investigate
and test the entire issue, it can be just frustrating.
If one person could solve this issue, he or she would be a hero. But in some companies the
prevailing culture actively prevents this by penalizing people who overstep their bounds
or by punishing those whose systems have issues, even if the issues are fixed.
All too often, politics trumps productivity.