back to article BOFH: How long does it take to complete Friday's lager-related tasks?

"And so then when you've done your part of the task you simply change your task icon to the 'completed' state, click update, then activate the next task in the project chain, which will send an alert to the next team member that they have a task to complete for the project," the instructor burbles happily. "What if I'm doing …

I know exactly how they feel - spending more time on admin than real work - a plan devised by upper management because they sit around doing squat all and think that everyone else has the same amount of free time.

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Ah yes, the old "Do you want to sit here talking about how to fixing it or just let me actually get on and do so?" chestnut. Especially when the admin and discussion comes wrapped up in a request involving PowerPoint.

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TRT
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But...

they are the people with power.

I get your point.

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Joke

<quote>Especially when the admin and discussion comes wrapped up in a request involving PowerPoint.</quote>

Death to Power Point, and all of its users!

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Anonymous Coward

I know exactly how they feel

Oh yes indeed.

I took over as lead engineer on one project and to help me keep track of progress (and for my own use only) I created a little spreadsheet (just a list of tasks and who was doing them). Took me about 1/2hr each day to keep it up to date.

Then the project manager found out about it - "Can you add this column, oh and why you're at it...".

After awhile it was taking me a couple of hours each morning to keep the damn thing up to date. Still, you live and learn...

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Re: I know exactly how they feel

That's what happens when you can't say "NO".

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Anonymous Coward

Even Dave Gorman?

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Pint

That's how Powerpoint should be used!

The pint icon to reflect just how bad at Barlowing I am... someone get me a drink!

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We had the same problem. We were forced into using PSP and TSP.

I had been called into a meeting once because my weekly hours were below 10h work. While there I pointed out that the week I'd been stuck in meetings about meetings about how we're going to be doing work rather than actually working. Apparently that wasn't the right answer.

So next week I skipped all the meetings about work and finished off all my work early, apparently that wasn't the right answer either.

No pleasing some people.

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Pirate

RE: We had the same problem. We were forced into using PSP and TSP.

(Yes, I know... I'm tardy to the party...)

Many years ago I worked at a certain US auto parts store (let's just say it was a zone of auto's) in the store computer support area. I won't even begin to describe the equipment...

Our office was not at the corp HQ, but at one of the parts distribution warehouses as we needed a loading dock for some of the stuff we did.

One day, we all loaded up into one of the vans that the field support guys used and headed to to corp offices on the other side of town for a meeting. When we get to the meeting room all they are talking about is the planning of the next couple of meetings. Our boss asks them what we are going to be doing at this meeting and they say that it is just a meeting for planning the other meetings (yes it really does happen). He is none to pleased and tells them that we have work to do and we all get up and leave.

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BOFH getting soft in his later years ?

Liked the story, as usual, but how is it that she's talking about carpets at the end and not in one ?

I used to read BOFH articles that ended with nobody left alive but the BOFH and his PFY.

Those were the days . . .

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Re: BOFH getting soft in his later years ?

Why should she care as long as she's getting paid. After all, she's probably got a boss of her own…

You seem to have forgotten that the BOFH has already met his match.

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Re: BOFH getting soft in his later years ?

Yes, but when he met his ideal woman he did at least steal her wallet on principle.

Mind you, the BOFH hasn't actually killed anybody in this story, since the duty of care is clearly Mary's.

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Re: BOFH getting soft in his later years ?

You don't seem to realise that Mary (Sonia) is actually helping them set up a workflow to speed up future work (boss) executions. In fact, I believe they were about to perform a 'live' test at the end of the story - I think that counts :)

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Re: BOFH getting soft in his later years ?

In fact, I believe they were about to perform a 'live' test at the end of the story

Actually, I think it was the second live test/demonstration. They had just finished testing on the boss, and were moving on to the director.

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Happy

Re: BOFH getting soft in his later years ?

I thought for sure that Mary had seen the error of her ways and been converted...

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Re: BOFH getting soft in his later years ?

At the end they had already killed the boss and disposed of the body. They were about to do the same for the director.

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[...] Mary?" the PFY asks.

"My name's Sonia."

[...] says Mary...

excellent.

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Pint

you beat me to it...

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Forget their names

Can I be honest with you Mary?" the PFY asks.

"My name's Sonia."

"Course it is. Anyway Mary...

Classic director/senior management tactic... Glad to see it was turned around for a change!

Nice twist.

Using Mary's product to plot the PHB's demise, well done.

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Re: Forget their names

Can I be honest with you Mary?" the PFY asks.

Only if you can be Frank.

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Does Simon have a mole working with me somewhere??

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"Does Simon have a mole working with me somewhere??"

Maybe it's just one of the PFY's pimples.

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I was thinking more along the lines of holes in the carpet myself.

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admin obverhead

At a place I once worked, we used to have an online timesheet we had to fill in, to show how we had spent our work time, with a whole series of different codes representing time spent on different areas (granularity of 15min logged).

This made for quite an overhead (tracking time spent in excessive detail & filling it in via the online logging system) - unsurprisingly one of the first things the timesheet team had to do was a provide a code for time spent (wasted would be more accurate) in timesheet related activities!

After a while, the timesheet system died a death as it was noticed how much time was spent on timesheet related activities rather than productive tasks

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Re: admin obverhead

You're lucky, ours is still in place.

That said its not the worst part, as we now have a centralised document management system that's so fiendishly complex that no-one outside HR/quality has a clue how to find anything, and they get narked when you ring them up and ask them to get documents for you as it's at least a factor of 10x quicker than trying to do it yourself.

Plus given how long it would take and the hourly rate that some of our colleagues are on (sadly not me, more the sales drones) calculating quite how much retrieving a given document actually costs the company in terms of salary paid for time spent could be quite amusing (or scary if you're a beancounter)...

Still at least we got the expense system simplified as before it took so long (due to needing so much admin and so many sign-offs) that some of us started putting the interest that was accruing due to the gap between bills arriving and the owed funds to pay them onto the expense system too. Amazing how quickly the chief beancounter can move when that kind of fire is lit under him...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: admin obverhead

I have the fun here of not using a company owned machine as I'm subcontracted to another company. Which means every time I have an e-mail forwarded to me from my company to approve a task, the link doesn't work as I'm outside the company network and not using a company machine.

So, pull out VPN token, log onto company intranet portal, wait for Citrix app screen to load, launch the one and only portal which I know doesn't have IE locked down to a level where there's no address bar, copy the URL from the e-mail, paste it in, pull up the web page, sign in, approve, close everything, log off the VPN system...

AC for obvious reasons...

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Re: admin obverhead

Agreed- first task, Monday morning: fill in time spent time recording for the rest of the week. That's ten hours accounted for already!

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Re: admin obverhead

"You're lucky, ours is still in place."

Ours, too. As a contractor, I fill out the company's timesheet system, which has all sorts of cryptic codes. It usually takes more time to find out which codes are needed for certain jobs/projects than it takes to do the job. Every Friday, everybody deliberates most of the day how to fill out that bloody thing for the first four days of the week.

Then I have to go and fill out the timesheet for contractors with the agency. They work on different schedules (7 hours internal, 8 hours with agency per day).

Once that's done, I have to chase after different people to sign off on both timehseets so that I can finally send the invoices, which won't be paid until four weeks have passed (presumably because been counters have to pull off similar stunts).

Add to that meetings and conference calls every time more than two people get involved in discussing a task, and you're lucky to get 2 1/2 net working days in a week. Luckily I'm paid well and for all 5 days.

It's bloody bonkers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: admin overhead

Yes, I remember similar bullshit from Primavera. I had a regular task on it 'Fill in Primavera sheet'.

As far as I could see the managers did not even read it.

That was a complete waste of everybody's time.

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Re: admin obverhead

Ours is still in place too, except we've just changed from one system to another, which *IN THEORY* is a bit simpler.

Except it isn't, so we now have up to four individual project, job, sub-job and task numbers for a single piece of work.

On top of that, our weekly retrospective timesheet system, designed for granularity so we can ethically charge, requires us to fill in the weekly sheet by COP Thursday. Requiring absolute guesswork as to what we're doing on the Friday.

Ludicrous.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: admin obverhead

We used to get one electronic time sheet which we had to do in decimal and then on-call/overtime which had to be done in hours and minutes! Of course there was then agency sheets which had to be done in half days.......

We weren't allowed to book more than half an hour down to filling in time sheets so in the end I created a random number generator to divide my time between all allocated projects... another colleague filled it in (it was akind of spread sheet format) to spell out his name..... it was months before anyone noticed.

It's almost as good as problem tracking systems. I quickly realised that there was no point filling out the details of the problem resolution as no-one read them. I started by putting a very brief description in and then moved on to writing about cartoon characters and still no-one noticed.

Then there's the other request based systems where the person doing the work can close the task. You ask for something they say they've done it.... you then complain that they haven't and they say you'll need to open a new task for that!

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Happy

Re: admin obverhead

Best along those lines I heard was a mate who got hired as a contractor by ${company}, who just so happened to have such a system.

The bloke who hired him was someone he knew well and had worked for before at ${other_company}.

After a month he was found to be in line for the "most accurate and prompt timesheets" award. The boss handed it over with the following comment, delivered sotto voce:

"I know you too well. You've got a fucking script written to stuff the timesheet database automatically on a Friday afternoon, haven't you?".

<Cheesy grin>

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Facepalm

Re: admin obverhead

We had one of those in an old paperwork style. Even had a code for going to the bog!

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Re: admin obverhead

I got told off for allocating time to "filling in timesheets"

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COP Thursday

I had that same situation many years ago. The good bit is that having booked all of Friday's time, there's no need to do any of it. It's booked in the system so it must have happened, right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: admin obverhead

<i> launch the one and only portal which I know doesn't have IE locked down to a level where there's no address bar</i>

Just wait until they find that or an update of some kind nukes it.

My present company killed Outlook Web Access some time back and I am on site at a customer and use their email system and have to add my companies email as a secondary mailbox. Adding that as a secondary kills access to the voice mail systems management application because of the way it hooks into Outlook so I can't change my OGM on a daily basis as required by the customer (which is stupid as fuck, IMHO).

I have to run two different email profiles for Outlook and I don't check the one but once a week (if they are lucky) and I just know it is going to come to a head soon...

AC for the same...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: admin obverhead

<i> writing about cartoon characters</i>

I used to do a similar thing where I would copy random text from random documents from the internet in to the problem resolution description field. I had to stop doing that when they setup the new system and it actually emails the customer with the problem resolution...

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Re: admin obverhead

"I know you too well. You've got a fucking script written to stuff the timesheet database automatically on a Friday afternoon, haven't you?".

To which the only proper reply would be:

You might think that. I couldn't possibly comment.

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Re: admin obverhead

I have a cron job that grabs the comments from the subversion history and makes them into timesheet entries each day.

My boss is happy that he gets anything in my timesheet...

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Re: admin obverhead [sic]

I once worked in an office - when I was IN the office - where the assistant manager one fine day attended a course on time management. Apparently there were rumours that the state, for which we conducted a good deal of work, wanted "better accounting of time." The decree came down to record our work in five-minute increments! That lasted until I showed the manager that in an 8-hour day, if you paused for 30 seconds each five minutes, that ate about 48 minutes a day or 10% of the work time available in an eight-hour day.

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Re: admin obverhead

@Anonymous Custard

Sorry to hear that you're still shackled to it. Our "walk in" desk just abolished the timesheet last week. We are still on a helldesk ticketing system for the rest

I get the feeling that a timesheet fill in the blanks blah blah only works when you have enough time to fill in said sheets. I know when my current boss came, he was full of these "tracking" strategies. Once he learned that we are just slightly too busy to play twister, he changed his procedure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: admin obverhead

That's the thing with all these time tracking/task tracking programmes.

No one should need granular time management. They just need to know how long it takes to do a task, and why it took longer.

But that only works if the employer understands what it is you do.

And the mantra among professional managers is that you don't need to know about the substantive job, you just need to know about managing. We had a management consultant that kept telling us this. And when we looked under his stone we met plenty others of his species that said the same thing.

Where they don't understand what you do (because they are "professional" managers ) they then need to track you every minute, to make sure you are doing work.

In reality If the corporate total amount of time being misused is less than the total amount of time required to switch between the substantive task and the time tracking, do it and switch back then it's more cost effective to ignore a bit of time wasting. Or at least find a better way to make sure the staff are doing a proper job. Which a manager who knows the job can do.

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Re: admin obverhead [sic]

Back in the '70s IBM EMEA (in its infinite wisdom) decided that it needed to understand , in detail, what the Systems Engineers actually did ----- even though any customer could have told them. So, out came the work item and time allocated sheet---work items were coded to ensure compliance across the board (and the BORED).

One of the codes was 'Forced Idle Time', which was meant to specify time sitting around waiting for the last job to finish before you could start your standalone time at 02:00. Just about every engineer I knew used that code to great effect when filling out the form....seemed to take 2 days and fortunately it could be filled in while offsite (read lager time) and no-one was the wiser.

This lasted something like 3 months before it was canned.

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Unhappy

I wonder if i could borrow the PFY for a while.

You know there is a problem when you have to install a time management program to organise the previously installed time management program.

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Headmaster

Time and money

Brings to mind the sadly all-too-often repeated mantra around here, from we coalface minions to those up in the ivory towers...

"So do you want us to spend the time making Powerpoint, having meetings, discussions and brainstorming about the problem, or to just actually get to work and fix it?"

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Pint

Lager related tasks?

Sigh. This is an insult to us ale drinking IT people.

for me, Lager is only drunk when there is nowt else and that includes water.

I'll be having some T.E.A. tonight as usual. for those non lager drinkers amongst us, have a virual one on me.

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Happy

Re: Lager related tasks?

Lager is only drunk when drunk.

FTFY.

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Re: Lager related tasks?

Lager is only drunk with curry.

Properly FTFY

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Re: Lager related tasks? Lager is only drunk with curry

You do realise curry was actually invented to cope with the heavily hopped IPAs that were sent to India.

Before that they all went out for an english.

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