You Are a Professional, So Speak Up

  • Stacey

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1766

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item You Are a Professional, So Speak Up


    Stacey W. A. Gregerson

  • poorang

    Grasshopper

    Points: 22

    I see some ambiguous points, What have they done in the last 2 months!

    At first, I recommend a very fast comprehensive review of their circumstances, checking the ability of remote administration, looking for some free remote DBAs if there is no one in the pocket (even in other countries).

    and manage the issue.

    But considering:

    What is the "problem", is that "database administration" and lack of a DBA, or just passing the "Audit".

    In second case, the solution totally changes, and you can focus on some smart aspects.

    Remember the main things that should be considered very seriously is time and budget for this project.

  • David in .AU

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1784

    That is a difficult one.

    First thing I would ask is "What Government agency?" I'm not in the US, so obviously cant really do a proper comparison, but if they were getting checked over by the tax department then that alters the priorities of things.

    The next thing I would do is ask for some contact details so that I could contact the people in the offices for extra info if possible, at the same time it would probably be a good idea to find out what the political/emotional atmosphere is like. You dont want to walk in and start telling the newly aquired staff what to do, probably wouldn't go down too well.

    Then comes the more formal stuff of finding out what these databases do, what interfaces use them, who has access, do they need access and so on.

    To be honest, the audit of these systems (to me) comes last after you start building the bridges with the overworked staff, if they arent co-operative then you don't stand a chance of getting things sorted.

    Probably many other things I could write for this, hell, this is an entire thesis case study, but I have work to do 🙂

  • w.durkin@online.de

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3943

    Hi there,

    we had a similar situation a few years back when we acquired company XYZ567. I was not greatly involved in the planning, but gave my suggestions to the planners.

    I would suggest an internal audit of the systems. What do the systems do, what are they (MSSQL, MySql,Oracle). If the last DBA quit 2 months ago, then I would also immediately check that "simple" things are still working (backups come to mind). Also quite important: who has access to what - such takeovers can be a trigger for corporate espionage / "accidental" data loss etc.

    Our takeover went relatively smoothly, an important factor was that we basically went with a group from our team and did the big audit/system integration directly at their offices. It helps a great deal if you work directly with the people on the other side. They need to see you are not an evil corporation taking over their world, the human touch is important here.

    One important thing mentioned by David B was the possibility of alienation of the newly acquired colleagues. This is often a difficult problem, company takeovers generally involve layoffs and these layoffs are normally targeted at the company that was taken over. The new colleagues will most likely be worrying that their job is now in danger and this does not help them help you! So it is walking on eggshells time!

    It's quite a fun thing to do, you can look at a complete system that has run for some time but was built with a whole different view of the world. You may find some interesting implementations that could be useful elsewhere, but you may also find some scary implementations that need to be looked asap.

    My 2 Cents.

    GermanDBA

    Regards,

    WilliamD

  • fuller.artful

    Right there with Babe

    Points: 795

    I totally agree with you, but I qualify my agreement with a measure of the team I'm on, in terms of maturity. Some people, I have learned the hard way, view an attack on their argument as an attack on them or their character.

    As a philosophy major, I learned early that one must distinguish the two types of attack. You can attack my argument and still love me. You can attack me personally, while respecting my argument. These attacks are unrelated.

    I am not one who pipes down in the face of illogical arguments. On the other hand, I am not one that pretends knowledge where I don't have it. I am unafraid to say, "I don't understand what you mean by X." I think that this goes both ways. My ability to admit ignorance establishes a credibility ground, so to speak, and so if and when I shoot holes in your construct then you understand that it's the argument I'm attacking and not the peron who launched it.

    Arthur

    Arthur Fuller
    cell: 647-710-1314

    Only two businesses refer to their clients as users: drug-dealing and software development.
    -- Arthur Fuller

  • w.durkin@online.de

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3943

    fuller.artful (7/31/2008)


    I totally agree with you, but I qualify my agreement with a measure of the team I'm on, in terms of maturity. Some people, I have learned the hard way, view an attack on their argument as an attack on them or their character.

    As a philosophy major, I learned early that one must distinguish the two types of attack. You can attack my argument and still love me. You can attack me personally, while respecting my argument. These attacks are unrelated.

    I am not one who pipes down in the face of illogical arguments. On the other hand, I am not one that pretends knowledge where I don't have it. I am unafraid to say, "I don't understand what you mean by X." I think that this goes both ways. My ability to admit ignorance establishes a credibility ground, so to speak, and so if and when I shoot holes in your construct then you understand that it's the argument I'm attacking and not the peron who launched it.

    Arthur

    I'm sorry, but did this post land in the wrong place? It seems totally out of context to what is going on here. It reminds me of a regular poster (amanfrommars) on theregister.co.uk.

    Regards,

    WilliamD

  • AndrewMurphy

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5566

    Sometimes in meetings when people are asked for input and there's a silence it can be for different reasons.

    a) Some didn't understand the question.

    b) Some don't want to contribute as they couldn't care about solving the problem.

    c) Some understand the question alright but don't want to show their lack of knowledge.

    d) Some understand the question but are too political to speak up and contrbute openly.

    e) Some are too shy to speak up in public.

    f) Some are too intimidated (overawed) by peers/management to speak up.

    Same result - a very quiet meeting with no feedback/replies - but for 6 widely different reasons. And yet I've found that most times the questioner will not recognise these different root causes and will treat a "no reply" scenario as a positive acknowledgement or acceptance of something that really wasn't agreed. People who speak up will always be in the minority and will be remembered - but sometimes not for the right reasons.

  • Ian Massi

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5931

    My response to the VP would have been (mind you I have had a few more minutes to think about this than you did), "We'll have to conduct an audit of our own, see what needs to be fixed. Can I meet with you after this meeting to find out who I'll need to work with when I get there?". I think a couple of days in the new company's office, taking their IT folks out to lunch/dinner/beer would buy a lot of goodwill and make sure you get a feel for how everything is put together when you start working on this project remotely.

  • SuperDBA-207096

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 8176

    Having been in this sort of situation and having had it thrust upon me, my approach would have been to step back and analyze what's necessary - inventory and document what in place, etc, and to understand what's needed for the audit, then plan on how to bring stuff into compliance. Seems straightforward, but the "how" part can be a bit tricky.

  • blandry

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4761

    Although I didnt intend it, I have spent my exec management career as something of a "digital janitor", cleaning up messes that is, and I can tell you point blank that of the replies posted thus far, I was surprised to find that only Ian Massi hit the nail on the head. Ian, you have executive management potential!

    What did Ian hit that others missed? People! Businesses are made up of people, not just machines and software, and you dont solve problems by doing "this plan or that plan" if you dont have the people all moving in the same direction.

    As Ian pointed out, you meet with the staff and find out what the problem is in the trenches. THEN you formulate a plan around that information. Why? Because NO plan you formulate matters one wick if the folks who have to implement it are not inspired and driven to do so.

    With a DBA quitting, and things amiss before an important compliance activity, clealry this is a company with staff problems. Solve those, inspire, motivate, and then formulate your plan to bring things back in line.

    There's no such thing as dumb questions, only poorly thought-out answers...
  • SuperDBA-207096

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 8176

    blandry (7/31/2008)


    ...With a DBA quitting, and things amiss before an important compliance activity, clealry this is a company with staff problems. Solve those, inspire, motivate, and then formulate your plan to bring things back in line.

    Good view of the 'big picture'... I think that sums it up, although in this day and age, people move around alot in IT (at least in my area).

  • Tim OPry

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2988

    Other than flogging the due-diligence team, what DID you end up doing?

  • Someguy

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2207

    Tim OPry (7/31/2008)


    Other than flogging the due-diligence team, what DID you end up doing?

    I think the hardest part of this is getting over all of the immediate thoughts like:

    *******

    OK. So the bean-counters sat down with some other bean-counters and decided that there were enough beans here to make some money.

    To them, all of the staff there (and here for that matter) are "beans".

    They don't really understand what's going on internally in the aquired company (or again, at their own company, but let's not get into that); things have been going wrong there for some time now.

    The DBA is probably one of many people who saw the handwriting on the wall and jumped ship. The ones who are left are the less-valuable staff who didn't think they could find work elsewhere.

    The vice-president has given you no warning whatsoever - a competent manager would have pulled key IT staff aside before the meeting and warned them rather than having them shoot from the hip at a big meeting. You're dealing with a total moron. Unfortunately, a powerful one...

    ********

    Once you've flushed all of that from the queue of items to come out of your mouth, you ask for the chance to get in there and do some analysis. The people suggesting that the human element needs to be addressed definitely get my nod, although understand that you're dealing with upper-level managers who don't understand anything about that, so be careful.

    ___________________________________________________
    “Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.”

  • Ian Massi

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5931

    blandry (7/31/2008)


    Although I didnt intend it, I have spent my exec management career as something of a "digital janitor", cleaning up messes that is, and I can tell you point blank that of the replies posted thus far, I was surprised to find that only Ian Massi hit the nail on the head. Ian, you have executive management potential!

    What did Ian hit that others missed? People! Businesses are made up of people, not just machines and software, and you dont solve problems by doing "this plan or that plan" if you dont have the people all moving in the same direction.

    As Ian pointed out, you meet with the staff and find out what the problem is in the trenches. THEN you formulate a plan around that information. Why? Because NO plan you formulate matters one wick if the folks who have to implement it are not inspired and driven to do so.

    With a DBA quitting, and things amiss before an important compliance activity, clealry this is a company with staff problems. Solve those, inspire, motivate, and then formulate your plan to bring things back in line.

    Thank you for the enthusiastic response! That certainly made my morning. The sense I got from the editorial was that the VP didn't have the know-how to handle this piece and didn't want to. There were likely a dozen other critical things he had to deal with for this project. He was looking for someone to delegate it this chunk to. It doesn't even matter if you can take it all on yourself, if it's that important, you can always rope others into it with his approval. Building trust with people is very important and something like this would build a lot of trust. Working in a high-trust environment is much more fun than a low-trust one.

    I work in a small company now (~15 people) and report to the CEO. He's the type who'll say something like the VP in this scenario does (but without blind-siding people with something as big). He's not looking for a project plan, specific questions that'll waste the time of the other 18 people in the meeting off the top of your head. Just someone to step up, say they can do it with confidence and get it done. Mind you if I start doubting my abilities he'll say, "Ian, you're a smart guy - you'll figure it out.". Then I'll either figure it out or find someone who can. In this scenario, dealing with the people was very important, but in other challenges I've had lately, it was figuring out some Active Directory stuff or coordinating changes with someone in our Australian office (dealing with people again).

    I too am interested in the response given in this scenario and what the VP's advice was later on.

  • SqlOnMyMind

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5049

    As for speaking up in a meeting, addressing the dead silence -- sometimes you just have to put the ball into play. "Perhaps the first thing we should do is ..." Then, ask a question of someone else in the room who has knowledge of your suggestion. "Couldn't we..." Get up and start writing ideas on a board. Once the ball starts rolling, others will join in.

    And, if I can't think of a good suggestion to start off with, I'll ask a question to get more info. I am not afraid of looking dumb to get things started!

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