Episode 7 – Operational Acceptance

Timothy Useful, Risk Manager for Brenda de la Rue’s area, was at Dave Starling’s desk. “How come you are always in the same place? Aren’t you guys part of the hotdesking initiative?”

“Would it represent a risk if we weren’t.”

Timothy thought for a few seconds. “No. I can’t see how it would.”

“Okay, we are technical part of it, but I am also on the Staff Engagement Working Appropriately Group Executive and to be perfectly honest, everyone except for senior management and the consultants that sold this to us, hates it.”

“I like it.”

“How come?”

“Normally people run away when they see me coming, but with hotdesking I can sit next to people who wouldn’t normally talk to me and they look suspicious if they get up and move desks. It’s the only way I can find out what is going on.”

“Okay, senior management, consultants and the police force.”

“Ouch! That hurts. I’m not the police. Think of me more like a defence attorney. I’m here to advise you so you don’t get the wrong side of the actual police force in the first place.”

“I have to say, it doesn’t always feel like that.”

Timothy thought it was time to change the subject. “I re-ran the risk profile for your project and I think the biggest issue is Operational Handover. Have you talked to Peter Ness about it?”

“No. We are supporting it ourselves.”

“I’m afraid that is out of the question. We have a mandated policy of segregation of duties between development and operations. It is required that you prepare the handover documentation, complete the Operational Readiness Assessment and commit to a calendar of handover with a warranty period.”

“Look Timothy, you are the risk person, not the process person. You know perfectly well that Peter’s team has no way they can look after this. They don’t even understand the technology. Even if I fill in all of the paperwork, the first time there is a problem they will come to us to fix it.”

“Not if you follow the process and do the handover properly. Jesus Christ! What is that smell?”

Chris Tackle took his headphones off and looked around, “Sorry guys.”

His concentration suddenly broken, Timothy changed tact. “Alright I know Penis Head cannot look after this, but it’s my mission in life to fuck him up as much as is humanly possible, and this might be the final nail in his coffin.”

“Penis Head? Why do you call him that?”

“I don’t. That’s what he calls himself.”


“Peter Ness, Head of Operations. Or… P. Ness Head for short.”

Just at that moment the man himself walked passed. “Did I hear my name? Oh, its you Timothy.” he said with an air of disgust.

Timothy looked up. “Dev/Ops motherfucker! How have you still got a job?”

“Because someone has got to fix all the crap that you allow to go into production!”

Penelope Crank stood up at her desk and snarled. “Go on. Fuck off, the pair of you. I’m trying to get some work done.”

“What? You can’t talk to us like that. We are management!” both Timothy and Peter shouted in unison, before realising how wrong they were and starting to quickly walk away.

Penelope wasn’t finished, “That’s right. Keep moving. I don’t want to see either of you on this floor again. And you can both stop emailing me about your sad fucking lives and how you need me to produce a risk matrix or an operational readiness whatever. I’m not bloody doing it. Stop asking!”

Dave turned to Chris who had removed his headphones to listen properly, which was an unusual event in itself.

Chris said “How does she get away with it? Everyone else has to comply with all of this bullshit process and Penelope just refuses, with no consequences. Half my life is filling out paperwork and attending meetings.”

“One word.” replied Dave, “Mainframe. She works on the mainframe. Nobody wants to go near it because they think it is old and unfashionable. They know they can’t write that word on their resume unless it relates to a project to replace a mainframe system, and to the best of my knowledge, that has never happened anywhere in the known universe.”

“I get why she works alone, and the technology isn’t the only reason, by the way.” Chris whispered, checking that Penelope was indeed back working away on her computer and as usual ignoring the rest of the world. “What I don’t get is how she can ignore the pointless people, like Peter and Timothy. They make my life hell, why not hers?”

“Mainframe. Nobody understands how it works, and Penelope is hardly likely to tell them. They understand your technology, so they can ask questions to pick holes in what you are doing, but they don’t know where to start with the mainframe, so they try open ended questions.”

Chris looked at Penelope and then back at Dave. “I once asked her how her weekend was, and she told me to go and fuck myself.”

“See. She’s got it perfected.”

“But what about management. You, Flux and Brenda must get complaints about her all the time. Why do you put up with it?”

“Look around and see if you can find anyone capable of getting anything done. Go on, have a look.”

Chris knew that he didn’t need to, so Dave continued, “We’ve had a strategy of getting rid of the mainframe systems for 15 years and they still run over 60% of our critical processing. We’ve pretty much only got Penelope looking after them, plus a couple of crusty old contractors, who I doubt do anything useful. There is no way anyone is stupid enough to piss her off.”

Chris thought for a moment, before replying. “Okay, one last question.”

“Fire away.”

“Why is she in the Cloud team?”