Wednesday, September 06, 2006


For those that don't know what I do, I work in IT, primarily in a product called SAP. It's a big honking product you only install if you have a government department or multi-million dollar business.

In my current role, I was leading the team that takes all the data (the employees, the customers, the GL balances etc etc) from the old system, massages it, and sticks it in the new system. As easy as this sounds, it's enough work for 14 people for 6 months in this case.

As you can imagine, we can't ask the business to STOP while we do this, so we do most of it in advance (the stuff that doesn't change) and on the last weekend, we do all the 'open' stuff - open purchase orders, open financial documents etc. So we have 2 days to move across a HUGE volume of data.

This is what we did last weekend. It was always going to be tight - we were converting a big business to SAP, and we had budgeted 3 days to do it. What we didn't factor in was:
  • The system running 5 to 6 times slower than normal and 8 times slower than predicted based on our testing on smaller hardware.
  • Data for the new system was very patchy in quality and it took us a long long time to get the data working anyway.

So instead of things take 3 reasonably longish days for the 15 of us to do, it took us 3 full 24 hour periods to do it - with stuff carrying over to this week.

To say that this was the weekend from hell is NOT an understatement. We never had enough team members for shifts, so people worked until they couldn't stand up any more. People were removed from the building at 5am because they couldn't talk or type any more. People were fed and sent home at lunch on Sunday after being there for 1.5 days without a break.

I took in a banana folding lounge and a pillow after trying (and failing) to sleep on the floor on Friday at 1am. It got used by 3 or 4 people other than myself. I got videotaped sleeping under my desk (the bastards!). We cracked it and started writing status and fake motivational sayings on the windows of the offices we were using (which are now famous, people are coming to look at them - will try to get copies of the photos).

It's now Wednesday, and I finally have had enough sleep to be able to type complete sentences (got sent home yesterday because I couldn't talk). So would like to send out thanks to Husband-person for being so understanding and helpful, but most of all, thanks to the team who slogged it out over the weekend. They did far more hours than me, did the actual conversion work which is extremely difficult at the best of times (i.e. when you have had sleep) and brain numbing and much harder work than what I did (my role had devolved to telling them dirty jokes, threatening to get them strippers, bringing them sugar and coffee - anything to keep them functioning). I have never worked with such a committed bunch of people in my life and it has been a great privledge to be the person who got them coffee.

Addendum: If it wasn't clear from this post, we did actually hit the deadline and go-live, a day late, but we hit it. Another team held up the project in the end. Photos of the insanity can be found here.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

All hail the support crew

I got in from work at 2:45 this morning. I showered, poured myself into bed and didn't move until 9am (literally, if the pain in my left side is any indication). When I got up, Husband-person:

  • Made me scrambled egss on toast and coffee
  • Rubbed my back
  • Then drove me into town.

All hail the support crew! 2 days to go!

P.S. Six hours sleep in a night is considered a luxury by the team at this point. Some have had six hours total in the past 3 days.