Changing lanes

Secret CIO finds his new life strangely unsatisfying.

Tags: CRMOutsourcingUnited Arab Emirates
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Changing lanes
By  Secret CIO Published  December 6, 2009 Arabian Computer News Logo

Secret CIO finds his new life strangely unsatisfying.

To quote Wallace Shawn from 1987’s classic “The Princess Bride”, this is simply inconceivable. Inconceivable, with a capital ‘I’.  I can’t literally conceive of anything that could be worse.

What am I talking about, you ask? Why, my current situation of course. For those of you just joining in, two months ago I was sacked from my exceedingly lucrative position as CIO of the well-known [deleted] producer of [deleted again – ed]. I won’t get into the (alleged) reasons for my dismissal, but anyone who knows my character will clearly vouch for my hardworking and genial nature, so it was clearly highly unfair.

I spent the following month in the fruitless search for alternative labour. After being turned down for everything from hot dog vendor to ERP salesman, I had very nearly resigned myself to a tiresome life of retirement in the Bahamas. Eventually though, an outsourcing firm hired me as a roving project manager which sounded absolutely brilliant – in theory.

After all, how hard could it be? All I’d have to do would be to go to various companies, sit there for a couple of weeks while enjoying ample use of their food and beverages. When they’d finally start to get sick of me, I’d then implement stuff that I’d done hundreds of times already such as CRM, which as everyone knows is child’s play to install, execute and support.

The first obstacle was assembling a team of lackeys – sorry, professionals – to carry out my exalted commands. Obviously, they’d need to be assembled from the finest enterprises in the region having completed some of the most demanding installations possible. They’d also need to be well refined in the gently persuasive art of dealing with customers – after all, we’ve all heard of outsourcing projects which have gone awry because of poor communication between the project team members and the client. So basically what I needed were five to eight clones of myself, sharpish.

I didn’t get five to eight clones of myself. Not even half an inch of relatively similar hair. Instead, what I got was an angry Russian who’d been forced into IT after a wayward cat had prematurely ended his Olympic cycling career. My number two was a litigation-happy Indian who had already sued two tech companies into near bankruptcy on racial discrimination grounds and after just three hours on the job, let slip a sly aside that he was “confident I wouldn’t let him down”. Erk.

That was the team. That was it, in its entirety. Not 50 trained network ninjas, just two people. One with a giant chip on his shoulder against the world; the other, always silently watching and waiting for me to say the wrong word with the slightest hint of prejudice so he could begin proceedings against our employer.

Adding to all my woes, regular readers knew that our first job would be in back in my old company, handling their servers for a month while the regular team was one leave. As you can imagine, it was with no small amount of trepidation that I began my first day of outsourced project management.

Fortunately, things went smoothly. Being deep in the datacentre, I ran into very few old colleagues and those I did meet were far too shocked to see that I was still gainfully employed to say anything too snide and cutting.

Free of the need to manage a giant department full of unwilling IT grognards, I suddenly discovered renewed enthusiasm for my work. Reduced to a mere tech nerd working with bare iron and unfinished code, I had never been happier. Also contrary to my expectations, my team actually managed to pull together and collaborate without incident. We raced through our assignment and actually felt a brief frisson of excitement when we handed over the complete implementation four days early.

Unlikely as it sounds and in the best tradition of late 1980s action-adventure serials, a team of wildly mismatched individuals came together to produce something actually half decent. For once – just for once, I was feeling slightly optimistic about things.

Of course, it was not to last.

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