Data Management

Diary of an IT manager: Mark D. Gonzales (Tuesday)

How do you deal with vendors who don't deliver on time? That's just one of the problems Mark D. Gonzales must tackle. Check out his journal entry for today.

This week, IT Manager Republic will feature the daily diary of Mark Gonzales, IT manager for the department of emergency management with the county government in Pueblo, CO.

7:30 A.M.
Just as I walk in this morning, I notice that the facilities crew has started taking out the office furniture in two of the offices that are going to be recarpeted. My computer specialist expresses his concern and suggests that we should get the computer equipment out before something gets damaged. We begin disconnecting wires and moving the hardware. After that task is complete, we set up the computers in our Emergency Operation Center (EOC).
Get caught up on this week’s diary.Read Monday’s installment here.
9:00 A.M.
I call the developer of our new database. He has been waiting for my call since 7:30 this morning. He has figured out that Microsoft Access has a default value that allows multiple users to edit a record at the same time. This may be the reason we've had so many record errors.

He tells me that I need to open the Tools/Options/Advanced tab and then select Edited Record in the Default Record Locking section. The funny thing about Microsoft Access is that this cannot be set up in the .mdb file; it must be set up at every machine that will be accessing the new database. I have to remember to do this before I release the new version of the database.

Another problem is that the new database has had its data corrupted more times than I care to admit. The developer has a feeling that the NFS (Network File System) may be the cause, so he wants to throw it on our NT server in hopes that omitting NFS will eliminate the problem.

I now need to delete the old version of the database and archive the new version. This new database is taking much more time than I had expected.

10:00 A.M.
My computer specialist has already been to my door twice in the last hour. He needs assistance in getting the audio equipment to work. What was to be a simple task of reconnecting a few wires has turned into a major problem.

It’s a good thing that the equipment is still under warranty because we can’t get it to work, and the cost of reprogramming it is about $100 an hour. I am already envisioning putting in some training time to learn the software program used to run this equipment. This is one more task that falls under the title “IT manager.”

The computer specialist then tells me of another problem that he is having in our Communication Center (which you might be more familiar with as a 911 Emergency Center). We are not getting our reports printed automatically on our Emergency Alert System (EAS) because the printer is not working. The other problem is that the printer is connected to a system that I have no authorization to work on. My computer specialist reminds me that we have a spare printer in inventory. I give him the authority to eliminate the printing share and install our own printer. I’ll deal with the politics later. For now, the automatic generation of these reports is more important.

11:00 A.M.
Wow, where has the day gone? It is already 11:00 A.M., and I still haven’t updated our staff on the new and improved functions in our database. I give two staff members a quick update and walk over to the GIS (geographical information system) manager’s office. I want to fill him in on the new improvements to the database.

I also need to talk to him about approximately 450 records that he added to our database. He added the street numbers and names but forgot to include the city, state, and ZIP codes. We have no way of knowing what the missing data is unless we use primitive tools, such as the Yellow Pages.

Finally, something goes right; he has the information we need in an ArcView table. Now the trick is to export it over to our new database. It’s a little bit more difficult than just exporting a file over, but he is a real guru with ArcView and is very good with Microsoft Access. He gets the job done and teaches me a few cool things in the process.

1:00 P.M.
I’m back from lunch, and my computer specialist tells me that he has scheduled the audio equipment vendor to come in on Friday to reprogram the system. I am so glad he has taken care of this for me. I am not sure when I would have had time to make this call. I need to find a way to acknowledge his work and thank him for being a self-starter. Maybe I will have our next tech meeting off-site at the City Diner and spring for breakfast.

Later, a staff member asks me if I can help a group of employees build a few queries in the new database. They have some experience with Microsoft Access, but they are having some problems with the new security features that were installed.

3:30 P.M.
I need to make a few phone calls. I have not heard anything for a couple of days from two vendors in particular. One of the vendors won the contract to perform our Rewire Project, and the other won the contract to replace our two new CSUs/DSUs (Channel Service Units/Data Service Units).

The vendor working on the Rewire Project has good news—the work can begin in three weeks. But the vendor working on the new CSUs/DSUs gives me yet another excuse about why the parts have still not arrived. This is no longer acceptable, so I enforce this deadline: “Have the parts in and installed by September 1st, or I will cancel the contract and go out to bid again.”

I don’t really want to do this because going through the request for proposal (RFP) process again gives me the chills. But I have to cut my losses somewhere and get a vendor who is responsive and who has a high regard for customer service. This vendor takes a few moments and then says, “Give me until tomorrow to give you a firm date on when the parts can be delivered and installed.”

I agree, and we end the conversation. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

4:45 P.M.
Another busy day that has come to an end. Once again, the new database has taken up most of my day. I had better get to my e-mail and voice mails for the day. Today I have 28 e-mails and one voice mail waiting for me.
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