The Italian Job! – Part 4 – The Longest Day!

04 Aug

At 8am local time (I’m going to stop comparing times – just remember that Italy is 1 hour ahead of the UK) on Monday 16th July we parked our 3 large air-conditioned cars in the factory car park in Casteggio and stepped out into stifling heat and the dreadful “bad drain” smell that the by-products of a yeast factory apparently produce.

Our leader Project Manager, who had been out to reconnoitre during the previous week, led us to our work-room, introduced us to the local IT Manager and his part-time assistants and showed us the schedule for the day. This involved migrating 10 computers (2 for each engineer) including 2 VIPS and a business critical factory PC.

Now there are three things wrong with that scenario from the point of view of the Migration Engineers.

Firstly, because we have to unpack and set up our travelling server and then have certain adjustments made to it by people in Peterborough before it will work, we NEVER schedule more than 5 computers for migration on the first day.

Secondly, because there are inevitably some “shakedown” issues we NEVER, EVER schedule business critical PCs on the first day.

Thirdly, and simply because it would make us look bad if there were any aforementioned “shakedown” problems, we also NEVER, EVER put anyone important down for the first day!

And it all started to unravel around lunchtime when the people tuning up our server from Peterborough found it to be missing all of the Casteggio-specific applications that needed to be loaded onto each and every rebuilt computer. That isn’t necessarily totally accurate but it does convey the seriousness of the problem and suffice it to say, if it had remained a problem we would have all been sent home before the end of the week with the project designated a failure.

It is not my job to know or guess where any blame for this situation might lie but it seems that several people had made certain assumptions that other people would have had all this sorted out in advance – which was not the case!

As one of my old colleagues at MBM Produce was very fond of saying, “Never ASSUME – it makes an ASS of U and ME”!

Unfortunately, it WAS my job and that of my colleagues to sit around in a (fortunately) air-conditioned office while those applications were pushed very slowly through to the server and we could tell whether we were going to be able to start work properly on Tuesday. It was actually well after 11pm (i.e. over a 15 hour day) when we left the factory having succeeded in building the grand sum of ZERO Windows 7 computers!

Luckily the hotel had agreed to keep someone on duty in the kitchen to await our return so we were able to eat! However, the slow serving and eating habits that we had to conform to meant that we didn’t get to bed until gone 2am on Tuesday!

Whatever the problems had been they very quickly got sorted out by a senior member of the Project Office who was flown out on Tuesday to shout at the necessary people in Italy and Peterborough and to kick the necessary bottoms! He also assured us over-sensitive Engineers and our Team Leader that we had nothing to worry about as far as our contracts were concerned – i.e. everyone who mattered knew that it wasn’t OUR fault – and that he was confident we would soon catch up!

Regrettably this meant that instead of a comfortable 2 PCs a day each, we had to bump our builds up to 3 or even 4 a day which was fine until you had to go out and collect them. It was bloody hot out there!

And I am pleased to report that because we are such dedicated miracle workers we finished the first week AHEAD of schedule – and what is more, the powers that be were fully aware that this WAS because of us. It also meant that any likelihood of our having to work on Saturday or Sunday (which we were being paid for) faded into the distance and never got mentioned again.

And THAT was what REALLY mattered!


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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Travel related


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