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The BOFH school of management

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Episode 13 So the Boss has resigned (which in itself isn't a great occurrence) except that neither the PFY nor I had a hand in it (which is). It seems he was made an offer he couldn't refuse which didn't involve horses or handguns but instead a large amount of money.

The first thing we knew of it was the abusive leaving message taped to his desktop machine when he failed to turn up after the weekend.

So the Head of IT is calling the usual slave traders in an attempt to track down a replacement - only they seem to be a little thin on the ground as a result of the buoyant market in the field this week. The life expectancy of bosses may have something to do with it, but I'm not too sure.

Some form of plan has to be made so as to give the using classes the assurance they need that the health and welfare of our systems and networks are running well. Or, in other words, they need to know that someone will lose their job if we're ever caught reading the contents of their email. I could digress to discuss our plug-in to the modulated output of the package scanner, allowing us to "read" some parts of snail mail as well - but I won't.

The Head of IT is pacing which can only mean one thing. Well, two things if dumplings were on the menu at lunchtime - but for today we're in the clear - he's thinking.

The majority of the IQ not devoted to walking and scratching his genitals is now concentrating on the problem at hand. The PFY and I look up as a noisy gust of foul-smelling air from his nether regions signals a conclusion has been reached - much like smoke from a Vatican chimney.

"How about you take the job on - till we can find a replacement?" he suggests.

"I'd love to, but as you know I have a position here."

"You could do both - it's only an interim measure - all you need do is answer a few calls, attend the odd meeting..."

"And supervise...?"

"Well yes, there's an element of supervision to the role - you two, the helpdesk supervisor and the Technician guy. Come to think of it, where is the Technician guy?"

"Dave?"

"Hmm?"

"Dave, the Hardware Technician?"

"Yes, that's him!"

"Retired a year ago."

"Really? Oh well, I suppose that's one less person you'll need to supervise then!"

"I think you'll find that I'm more use in a technical role as opposed to Management."

"Nonsense! A fool could do it!"

"Yes, a fool generally does."

"Wha..?"

"Anyway, there'd be a conflict of interest. I'd be supervising myself for a start!"

"I'd be your supervisor!"

"In the Management role, but as a manager I'd be managing myself in the rest of my technical role. There could be ethical issues."

"I think we'll take that risk - meantime if you could hold the fort for six weeks till we can find someone new..."

"Like I said I..."

"Okay there's a couple of grand in it."

...

So this management lark is a piece of the proverbial! There's three projects which need extensive handholding to keep moving, some budgetary palaver to sort out and some contracts to be signed.

All in all the annual contract negotiation process for the PFY and myself go incredibly well, with management accepting the 25 per cent pay increase without question. The two grand signing bonus was just icing on the cake - I'm just a pleasure for contractors to work with!

With one task down I attack the budget and purchasing problem with the help of a little initiative and several hours on a popular web-based auction system.... The replacement user desktop computers were a reasonable spec, fantastically cheap and we didn't have to deal with disposing of all the packaging. True, we had to pay in cash, take delivery late at night and scrape the asset labels of another company off them, but that's just the new world of electronic business for you.

With the cash left in the kitty I managed to also acquire something truly meaningful to improve staff morale - a ginormous plasma telly for the staff lunchroom. ***Bonus***

The only fly in the ointment is the project stuff which is so onerous it would ordinarily have had me eating my desk blotter with frustration. Still, I've devised a plan so cunning it'd qualify for a research grant to obscure the fact that I'm not contributing in any meaningful way.

"So how does it work?" the PFY asks, peering over my shoulder at the email I'm about to send.

"Simple. I send an email to each member of each project team asking them how the project is going and if they have any questions. That'll buy me about a week."

"And?"

"And then in a week, I'll send the question asked to every OTHER person in the team for their comments."

"And?"

"I quietly feedback the comments expressed in the worst possible light to each team member whilst implying that the team thinks that they're the weakest link."

"Ah, and so the teams implode before you have to devote any time to managing the projects."

"Precisely!"

"Sneaky. But you realise you'll end up in your systems engineer role having to support all these half-arsed projects when they come back to haunt us?"

"Yes well, ordinarily I would, but I fired myself this morning."

"What!?"

"Yes. I saw myself working in the computer room without hearing protection and dismissed myself."

"But that's not grounds for dismissal!"

"EXACTLY what I'll be saying in my personal grievance claim!"

One could really get used to this Management stuff! ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2005, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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