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John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (@SQLBrit) is a Technology Lead with the database team at Expedia, Inc. providing consulting services and support for one of the worlds largest SQL Server environments. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor Award (MCC) John can be found regularly blogging about Being a DBA and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.

The Great DBA Getaway

The Great DBA Getaway

Free, at last!

It’s holiday season which means it’s a time for you all to buy me gifts super busy time for Data Professionals!

Bosses are keen to take of advantage of the opportune downtime to get maintenance done and your colleagues are abandoning the office in droves. Leaving their troubles and work behind them, most likely for you to do. You just might not know it yet.

Don’t Be “That” DBA

You know how it goes. There’s an issue with that production system you’ve never touched because Mike always looks after it. He’s out of the office on vacation, the first you’re hearing about it of course, and your boss is on DEFCON 1. He needs you to sort this s$%t out yesterday like your life depended on it. This prized steaming turd of an issue has been dropped in your lap at the last minute and without warning. You simply have no choice but to roll up your sleeves, get stuck in and dig your way out of this mess.

You’ve got some serious skills when it comes to problem solving and you know that you can figure this out but you also know that you just shouldn’t have to. You needn’t be in this position in the first place. You’re flying blind and the whole thing is an unnecessarily unpleasant experience. Thanks Mike!

Whether you’re taking time out to enjoy the festive season or working through it. Don’t get caught out this year. Here’s how to make a great DBA getaway.

Make a Stress Free Exit From Your Office In Style

Data Professionals work hard, so when you do have an opportunity to take time off it’s important that you make the most it. You want to be able to leave your work behind you and completely detach from it for a while.

This means:

Peace of mind:

      • For You
      • For Your manager
      • For Your colleagues

Demonstrating:

      • Your professionalism
      • Your vision and forward thinking
      • That you are in complete control of your environment, it does not control you.

You Gain:

      • The respect/admiration and appreciation of the people you work with
      • The ability to really enjoy your vacation and leave work at work for the entire duration.

Taking time away from the office in this manner means that when you do return to work you’ll be that much better for it. Much more relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to rock.

To achieve these blissful things, you have to make sure you and your colleagues take leave in the right way. Of course the key to ensuring a stress free break from the office is planning but then you already knew that. What you really want to know is how to implement this “planning” stuff. What is it that you actually need to do?

Start Planning Your Escape Now

If you’re doing it right most things will already be in order by the time you consider taking time out. In other words, don’t leave it to the last minute!

We are all really bad at this. I know that I sure am. There always seems to be something more important, alight interesting, that “demands” our attention and before you know it that task that we should have got done has already been forgotten about. I’m looking at you Documentation! The costs are very real I assure you, You’re Lack of Documentation is Costing You More Thank You Think.

A continued effort as part of your natural work practices will ensure that when it is time to finally take a break, your path to the exit will be unencumbered.

Ongoing efforts should made to:

  • Identify silos of knowledge and remove them.
  • Cross train your team continually. Swap roles, responsibilities, projects. That SQL Instance is not Mike’s, it’s belongs to everyone on the team.
  • Document – Systems, implementations, procedures, practices etc.

Leading up to time away from the office, produce and deliver a handover:

  • Task List - What is it that you expect will need to be done? Order your list in priority of importance. This will assist those not already familiar with a task when competing priorities arise.
  • References and documentation – What will people need to know and where can they look for it? If you’ve got your ongoing efforts locked down, then this will already be done for the most part.
  • Meeting – Schedule a time (not the day before your break) to present your handover. Include time for a Q & A session.
  • Follow up - Send out an email summary of the meeting, attaching your task/project list and references.

This is by no means an exhaustive list on how to go about your planning but follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a stress free break from the office.

Whatever you’re up to this festive season, whether you’re working (I know some of you production DBAs will still be in the trenches) or taking some time out, I wish you all a Very Happy Holiday. Cheers!

Have you seen the brand spanking new SQLBrit Community Forum!

It’s a great place to carry on the conversation and talk about all the “other stuff” there is to being a Data Professional. There’s a heck of lot more to it than technology. Come on in and introduce yourself.  Sure I might look like a big blue lion but I don’t bite.

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