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When the lights go down

By Tig2 ·
I have spent a significant part of my life managing after the lights go down on an install. That has been the time that I am allowed to get my team moving. We managed to miss the milkman and the postboy- leaving many of us to wonder about many things.

This all leaves me curious. What happens when the lights go down on your job or place of employment? Do you get called out? Are you expected to know things that you don't and, realistically, couldn't or shouldn't, know???

Tell all- I promise to never use your name in my upcoming book, "Stupid Sh*t I have Managed". I might not even bother to write the book.

Seriously- how do you manage expectations? How do you keep from getting lost in the "goo"? How do you keep your sanity in the face of the ridiculous?

Tiny minds- and this bouncy one- would love to know.


C'mon- you know you want to answer...


I hate myself but I am going to hit all the primary tags. If you have never been in a place where you had to ask all these questions, I apologize now.

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Open 24 hours

by GSG In reply to When the lights go down

First, Tigger, I was thinking the other day that I hadn't seen you around in a while. Good to see you!

The lights never go off here because we're a hospital and we're responsible to make sure systems from the system that manages the patient's diet and menu to the system that's in the cardiac surgery room, and the system that dispenses the patient's drugs are up and running without errors. After all, if the Best Buy systems go down people can't buy that gigantor flat panel. If our systems go down, people could die.

We have 3 people that take 24 x 7 calls. These are our tech support team, and these guys are amazing. We have over 50 medical systems, and quite a few non-medical systems, and they have to know a bit about each one. The system administrators have to be experts on anywhere from 2 to 8 systems. If one of the on-call guys gets a call, I'd say 98% of the time they can take care of it without calling us.

We have a system of primary sys admins and secondary sys admins, so that if the primary person is not available, the secondary is called. However, it does sometimes work out that neither are available, so when that happens, one of us who've been here a long time, or someone like me who touches almost every system in some way is called.

I manage an interface engine where I build interfaces so that the disparate medical systems can share data. Because of that, I have to know some odd info about the various systems. I'm not an expert on them, but I understand the data flow and some of the underlying structure. I can at least help identify the cause of a problem and give advice on what I think the underlying cause is.

The last level of support is the vendor. We pay for 24 x 7 support for all of our systems. If we have to, we call the vendor and make it a system critical call to get it fixed immediately.

We also keep what we call our top 10 lists. Each application has it's own web page on Share Point, and we list the top 10 known issues that crop up, and how to fix it.

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My hat to you!

by Tig2 In reply to Open 24 hours

Lately, I have gotten an "up close and personal" look at how hospital systems work... and don't. From what I have seen, it isn't the IT guys that fall down on the job. Here, anyway, it is the health care workers themselves. My experience has been that the IT staff has been fabulous.

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Technology in Health Care

by GSG In reply to My hat to you!

Health care tech is rough. The gov't passes regulations without a thought to what it will mean to the hospitals in the cost to implement, time, risk, etc... then they have the nerve to say that they have to do something about the cost of healthcare.

We try very hard to train, support, hold hands, give tissues to the nurses, but we get blamed for "forcing" tech on them. One of the nicest, sweetest people I know was training some nurese last week, and after listening to a person gripe and stretch a short training session into a couple of hours because of a bad attitude, this sweet person snapped, and said, "This will be as hard as you want to make it, it's up to you." After that, training went smoothly.

Then, there's the other type of clinical person. The one that uses the tools we give them, uses them correctly, which makes the level of patient safety rise, etc... This is the nurse that does well with or without technology.

I've spent many, many hours in the hospital with my mother in the past 15 years, so I see it from the patient side, IT side, and the nurse side.

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The lights never really go out

by mjd420nova In reply to When the lights go down

I have a number of clients that have signed 24/7 contracts that require someone be on call at all times. We rotate weekly and this sometimes interferes with those who have regular 9 to 5 commitments that must be met also. Comp time becomes a life saver and can often put undue strain on others but we all have to serve our time and meet those needs that are unpredictable. Weekends are just as busy as weekdays and those who get called out while relishing in family events know these needs are just part of the job.

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When the lights come up

by LocoLobo In reply to When the lights go down

It's been a while since I stayed late here. My boss wants me in first thing in case of problems. He's a late riser and just won't get in early except for major end-of-the-world problems. To him sunrise is a perfect end of the day. So I'm usually the first in nowadays.

A few years ago we had one of those crazy priority projects. Arrive at 9ish, stay until you can barely think anymore, come back the next day and do it again. It lasted for 6 months. What did we do after all the "children" went home? Condiment tossing contests, added audio files to application pages, played handball in the parking lot, and we did some work.

Usually it would be my boss who would instigate this. After he could see we were bogging down mentally, he would find something interesting to do, listen to, view, etc. It's amazing how a little fun can restore your thinking. The trick is to not let it take over your time.

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I recall a project...

by Tig2 In reply to When the lights come up

I was working for a major health insurance provider and we had to transition the network from something that was known (kinda) to something new. This required a physical touch to every single machine on the site and quite a bit of hair pulling- our own, of course.

My boss at the time was a great guy who wouldn't ask his team to do anything that he wasn't willing to do as well. This particular weekend was his birthday. His wife was not thrilled to have him work (WAAAAY) late, but brought us all dinner regardless.

We had done the first pass- every machine that we could touch and get a small piece of software installed on... that didn't balk- and had a good list working so we knew what we needed to do over the weekend. And then we found the "box from H*ll".

I worked on that sucker for a good hour. When I reached the four letter word stage, another team mate took over. He beat on that thing for thirty minutes before we called in the Boss.

Our Boss sat down with a list of things to do- all of which had been done by myself or my team mate. He was going to SOLVE this! I parked myself so that I could learn from the Master.

About 35 minutes later, I found myself in a new role- keep the Boss from throwing that *&^*% computer through the floor to ceiling windows in the workspace we were in. We sent him home to spend what little was left of his birthday with his wife.

Over the next two days, I spent many hours chasing stuff down and even "swimming" under the raised floor to find all of the connection points and document them. The Boss was there and working with us the whole time. We found plenty of things to laugh about and still managed to find plenty of time to do the job.

I love "Boss" stories like that. I still remember- with MUCH respect- that Boss.

Thanks Loco!

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When the lights go down...

by Ed Woychowsky In reply to When the lights go down

I stand up and wave my arms around so that they come back on.

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Ed, darling...

by Tig2 In reply to When the lights go down.. ...

You really are way too easy.

In your world, the lights going down is simply a hardware issue and not your problem. The SO is a software architect- I know these things.

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I may be easy

by Ed Woychowsky In reply to Ed, darling...

But, I'm not cheap!

How have you been, Tigg?

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The Clapper

by DMambo In reply to When the lights go down

...and I'm not referring to jd.

I AM the IT dept in my plant, so if there's a power surge, 2nd shift crisis, someone else working late causing a problem, etc., there's really nobody else to handle it. If I'm on vacation, I leave a primary contact, but there's only so much he/she can do remotely and without detailed knowledge of my site/environment, so I take calls anytime. Just part of the job. Sure beats supervising 80 line workers!!!

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