TSQL Tuesday

My friend Craig Porteous pointed me in the direction of this month's T-SQL Tuesday blog topic, horror projects!

I do have a good story about a horror project but in order to protect myself, my ex-employer, and the customer I need to try and dull it down a bit. (So forgive me)

Project Hell

Many moons ago I was part of a project team working on a big hardware and software refresh for a customer. And when I say big it doesn't adequately describe the size or the depth of the project. It was a out with the old, in with the new type project. New hardware, new software, new backups, new disaster recovery, the whole lot.

I came into the project when it was in it's delivery stage had started. The new kit was in place and things were starting to move.

I was tasked with setting up System Center Configuration Management (SCCM) as part of the project. I'll be honest, I hadn't used it in this format before, I was more familiar with it when it was called Systems Management Server (SMS). So this was a massive learning curve for me. It was a fun one though. Granted I did have to spend a lot of time learning outside of work and experimenting but I enjoyed it. As far as I'm aware the SCCM infrastructure, patching schedule, and imaging that I set up is still working.

That wasn't the first speed bump in the project though, lack of resources was another issue. For the scale of the project we were woefully under resourced on our side. Not having a project manager in the team just made things even worse. Technical engineers were struggling to juggle trying to project manage while being technical and to be honest not one of those engineers had the skill set to be a project manager.

Going where no one had gone before

There was a part of the project that was massively challenging and no one on our side had ever performed the kind of migration/technical implementation we were trying to achieve. And to be honest I've yet to meet anyone that's ever done what we had told the customer we could deliver.

Trying to deliver this part of the project was stressful, challenging and ultimately led to lots of unfulfilled promises and workarounds.

At one point in the project things weren't going the way they should have been going and I personally felt so much pressure, both from the customer and myself that I ended up cancelling time off in order to try and get things completed. I would never recommend anyone do this, to be honest, it just led to me personally burning out and my mental health suffered.

Tantrums

Deadlines were slipping because of the lack of project management and technical resource on the project and the customer was getting frustrated. Arguments were being had, heatedly and in public spaces. Doors were being slammed and people were storming out and even offering their resignation (which was reversed the following day).

Things were getting very unprofessional.

Lessons learned

The project did teach me a good few things. It taught me that a project on the scale we we embarked on needs the right resources, it needs a team of dedicated resources both from the supplier and the customer. Spreading your staff to thin is just a disaster waiting to happen. It also needs a (experienced) project manager to help with schedules and to liaise between customer and the delivery team.

Technically I learnt a great deal on the project, in the year that I spent on the project I ramped up on so many things, I would never have got that without being on such an intense project. I learnt a lot as well about how to handle and how not to handle stressful situations. How to defuse tense situations with customers and how to handle their expectations.

As always if you’d like to reach out and speak to me about any of the above please get in touch via Twitter @TechieLass

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