By the third day, the trees bore fruit!

January 6, 2006

Technology

By the third day of God’s creation, the trees began bearing fruit. Well, by the evening of the third day at Microsoft, I began to see fruit from the bureaucratic trees. Here is the summary of the first three days:

Day One:

I got up at 3:30 today after only three hours of sleep. I generally don’t ever have trouble sleeping. But this is the first real job change I’ve experienced in over eighteen years. So getting to sleep was tough. Fortunately, waking up was easy. I got up and headed to the Kansas City International airport.

Yes, you read that right. Kansas City does have an international airport with flights to Arkansas and Oklahoma! OK, that’s an unfair, cheap shot. But the Kansas City airport is a severely under-utilized asset in our country. It is centrally located with good equipment support. But few airlines use it for any kind of regional hub. So it is a glorified endpoint.

When I arrived, I found out that my 6:00 AM flight to Minneapolis was cancelled. So I had to scramble to get on a different flight. Fortunately, I found a direct flight from KCI that got me into Minneapolis a full hour before my original schedule. So what looked like a disaster (i.e., a cancelled flight) became an early start to my first day. Boy, I love it when a challenge becomes a victory.

When I got to the Minneapolis office, I met the hardware tech who was provisioning my gear. Unfortunately, he ran into a curious challenge. When my equipment was provisioned, it was provisioned with a password that did not meet corporate standards. So I spent the first three hours working with an offshore help desk representative who could not “push the right buttons” and resolve the problem. Fortunately, the network administrators were engaged and the problem was resolved rather quickly – once the right resources got engaged.

So what is the “lesson learned” from this incident? What is the “least-common denominator” for all U.S. corporations? All companies have a finely-tuned bureaucracy that demands constant feeding and attention. I met that bureaucracy in the first few hours of my new career. But the more important lesson is that every bureaucracy works through people. And most people have an innate desire to help. Fortunately, I was able to “connect” with some great people who really helped me through the bureaucratic maze. Thanks to Kelly, David and the network administrators from Redmond!

I spent the balance of the day learning about the systems that were finally being alerted to my presence. Like most corporations, few things can be successfully pre-provisioned. So I had to wait for many downstream systems to receive confirmation of my employment before they could begin their processes. It took two days to be able to sign up for medical coverage. Now that the Microsoft systems have my elections, this information must now flow to the external coverage providers for their systems to get updated. When I started at Sprint, this process took weeks. In this case, it looks like it will take days. And given the number of process interconnects, I think that a few days is an amazing feat. In a few years, I am sure that this “delay” will soon be measure in hours, not days.

So here is the summation of my first day. I was reminded that all corporations operate on fixed processes and procedures that are always under revision. But despite these process “hiccups,” real success is always marked by the attitude of the people that use these systems. And after a few days, I am ultimately impressed by the attitude and competence of the many people that are working to make me the most productive employeee that I can be. Thanks to the entire team. I am glad to become part of a group with such a “can do” attitude.

Day Two:

I am still waiting form many of the downstream systems to recognize my existence. I can get into many sites, but some of the pivotal sites are still not recognizing my credentials. Fortunately, I have been able to get my smart card activated. This will allow me to access the corporate network from my home (and while I travel). Unfortunately, while the card is “active” in some systems, it is not in my possession. The card has been sent to my Kansas office where I will pick it up tomorrow. At the same time, I have received confirmation that my travel and expense application has been accepted. With any luck, I’ll have a corporate travel card when I get home.

The rest of the day was consumed with a process orientation for the North Central District. Kelly was immensely helpful. Hopefully, my aging brain will be able to retain most of the data that I am receiving. I’ll try and provide metrics on “content retention” in a few weeks. I’ve been told that the fire hose effect will continue for several weeks. OK. Let’s hope that this sponge can absorb all of the water that is being thrown at it.

Day Three:

I am finally in my local office. I have a “semi-permanent” place to locate my miscellaneous gear. Since this is a “progressive office,” there are no official cubicle assignments. But since most employees work from home, I think I’ll be able to take advantage of “squatter’s rights” on an office cubicle.

I now have my access card and I have self-provisioned its use. This is a really cool system. When I got my PC, I got a PCMCIA smart card reader. I installed the card and loaded the drivers. Then I stumbled through the activation process. Like most written processes, some important pieces of information were ommitted (or not clearly articulated). So it took an hour to get it right because I was creating a PIN with embedded spaces. Apparently, that doesn’t work. But once I got rid of the spaces, everything else worked amazingly well. Total time to provision/activate the card for remote access: thirty-five minutes.

And I am finally percolating through the various HR systems. I’ve finally got benefit elections complete. I’m now waiting for the outbound updates to Fidelity so that I can complete my 401K tasks. I expect that everything will be humming along within the next few days.

Summary:

After eighteen years with one employer, I didn’t know what to expect when joining a new company. I can certainly say that this beat my previous experiences. But the process wasn’t without its flaws. And I couldn’t say that the process was a “best-of-breed” process as I have no salient point-of-reference. But I can say that when there were problems, there were people available to help solve the challenges. And the people were attentive and courteous. So I am thrilled with my first excursions into the Microsoft bureaucratic jungle.

-CyclingRoo-

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2 Comments on “By the third day, the trees bore fruit!”

  1. ass2006 Says:

    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

    Reply

  2. Joel Allen Says:

    Lorin,

    I just found out today (boy am I behind) that you are no longer with Sprint. I always enjoyed working with you and will miss you.

    Are/have you relocated from Kansas City?

    Good luck at Microsoft. Now I know who to get in touch with if I want a change to Windows. Bill Gates wouldn’t respond to my emails.

    Take care,
    Joel Allen
    jha1955@hotmail.com

    Reply

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