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Specific Admin Settings do not belong in an Install Guide

October 27, 2010

I currently work as a consultant for a large IT company. The current project I am working on is for a large and very important client. I have joined the project very late in proceedings; barely 6 months ago, the project been going for about 2 years and go live is happening next month.

Its hardly a surprise that there are quite a few last minute panics as things come to a head and all the little bits are tidied up.

However, one specific issue that has cropped up this week has utterly blown my mind. It’s a staggeringly petty issue that has been escalated and not a single person has turned round to the client and called it out. Instead we’ve all bent to their wishes and I have been left wit the actual task of performing the required change.

Oh how I wish I was in a position of responsibility that would enable me to tell the client the right way on this.

The detail

The problem in question is that there are some jobs that run that have to do a process on some of the content in the document management system that has been provided. The client has enabled all auditing of all detail (against advice, but that’s another story entirely). Two specific jobs run on all content and as a result create a lot of entries in the audit trail and there are concerns about filling up disk space.

After discussion with one of our consultants some parameters were added to the jobs to specify run criteria so that fewer items would be processed with each run and therefore the audit trail would not suffer so much.

All well and good, except the client then turns round and raises a level 1 issue against the documentation saying that they can’t install the live system using the supplied install guide unless the settings for the jobs are specified.

A check on the existing documentation details the parameters as optional and a description of their use. This is enough, the specific issues that the client has is an administration issue which is outside the scope of the install guide.

To add to the complications, my employer is only the developer and supplier of the system, the large important client has another large IT company doing the administration of their systems, including that which is supplied by my employer.

Someone should have turned back to the client and pointed out that this is not an issue that holds up installation of the live environment since job parameters are supposed to be modified and adjusted in line with on going system requirements. Instead its left to the menial lower ranks of the consultancy ladder to do what is told of them, moan amongst themselves and deliver what the client instructs despite it being the wrong thing.

The biggest problem with putting this sort of specific detail into an install guide is that no one will change it post installation and they will still run into the problems they wanted to avoid because the issue is not discussed in a specific administration context.


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