April 8th 2019

Today I had a frustrating but satisfying problem-solving session at work. I noticed that, for some reason there was a huge gap in our sales report data, and it kind of just materialised out of thin air. Or dematerialised, to be more accurate. It just vanished. And nobody knew where it went. So I did that thing I do when there’s a problem and just involved everyone I could think of in order to solve it.

Because Together Everyone Achieves More, or so said the poster in the break-room of the Pizza Hut I worked in as a kid (and then as an adult).

I just went around various departments of the business trying to figure out what had happened. I disturbed dev, stumped systems, flustered finance, and messaged marketing (I am in marketing, but that’s the only alliterative pair I could think of).

I’m hoping that everyone found me cordial and pleasant, because I was not trying to ruffle feathers. (It’s also worth noting, that if you work with me and you’re reading this then the vast majority of this description is poetic licence because I’m just trying to fill up a word count here). I just wanted to fix the problem. But I didn’t know how to fix the problem because I didn’t know where the problem was coming from. It wasn’t coming from the backend, apparently. Nor was it coming from the front end. So if the problem was not in the back, or in the front, then it had to be in the middle.

And once we’d figured that out, my colleague knew where to go to find out what was happening.

The problem was not with the data, or with the reporting, the problem was with how the data was meeting the reporting. Boringly, that meeting happens on a nondescript server somewhere in the nondescript data centre, and that server needed a nondescript system update. At this point, I’m beginning to question whether I know what the word nondescript means. Anyway, it wasn’t quite the technological or financial or developmental mystery I’d hoped it to be.

In the end, the solution was as simple as most problems in most offices…

Until tomorrow, have you tried turning it off and back on again?


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