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BOFH: Shafting the consultants over the new layout

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The essential guide to IT transformation

Episode 22

So we've got some external consultants here blundering through the requirements for the new building as a QA thing..

"It's not that we don't trust you," the Boss explains. "Far from it. It's just that senior management would like some assurance that everything you've asked for is a requirement and not just a nice-to-have."

"A nice to have?" the PFY asks.

"Yes, you know, something that's not essential - or something which we might be able to purchase at a later date when there's a little more capital available."

"Let's face it," I say, going for the honest approach. "The company has made an absolute pantload on their building transactions - even with the penalties we've paid to remain here in the interim. If they don't have the available capital now they'll never to have it. This is about trying to wear us down to the point that we'd accept space in a coolstore at a butchery if it were available. And it's not going to happen!"

"I'm on your side," the Boss hastens to assure us. "I think that if we're going to do this we need to do it properly, but I have to say that even I have difficulty explaining the requirement for a 150 inch plasma screen."

"It's for the status wall!" the PFY gabbles. "Instead of having a cluster of smaller plasmas all over the place we'd have a single screen which would encompass all we need to know about."

"Like what?"

"Systems and networks reporting, video feeds of server and comms areas, localised information that might be pertinent to the computer facility like Council, Electricity, and Telco works underway," I respond.

"Not to mention weather conditions likely to affect our wireless comms," the PFY chips in.

"Or countdown to happy hour at the local," I add.

"Supermodel-in-the-area alerts," the PFY suggests.

"I'm dubious about those last examples," the Boss says. "But I can appreciate that a single portal for status information might be useful. Still, it's not me that will be deciding, it's these people."

The Boss hands over a document from a consultancy firm and the PFY bashes the name into a search engine.

"Hmm," he mumbles, looking at the company's website.

"What?"

"They say that the partners have a combined experience in computing of over 60 years."

"And the company consists of a couple of COFs?" I suggest.

"COFs? What's a COF?" the Boss asks.

"Crusty Old Fart. I.e. someone who was there when dirt was invented."

"I hardly think..."

. . .

Our worst fears are realised at the first site meeting when they start questioning the amount of space we want to get our hands on...

"I can't see what the problem is," I say, walking with the consultants through the gutted heart of our soon-to-be-created computer suite.

"Leaving aside the assumption that we'd approve the separate comms room with the advances in structured cabling in the past 10 years," one of the COFs says. "The size you're proposing is huge! You've allocated about 1/5th of the floor!"

"Just planning for the future," I say as my dreams of a rent-free city flat hiccup briefly.

"And what part in the future does this plant access shaft play?" the other COF asks, tapping the area of the plan where we're planning to put our fireman's pole.

"Where's that then?" the PFY asks shoving a builder's trolley loaded with concrete out of the way.

"Here," the first COFs says, stepping over to a section of the floor marked out in yellow chalk and concrete dust.

"Oh that! That would be a central riser for all the supporting plant - the access path for power, chilled coolant, makeup air, etc." the PFY lies. "It's key to the build."

"It doesn't look all that key to us," he counters. "You could put all your plant in the computer suite and save a valuable amount of what was once car parking space in the floor below - not to mention the loss of floor space on this level."

"How much floor space are we really losing?" the PFY asks.

"Fifteen square meters – roughly," the second COF says.

"How much exactly?"

"Okay we'll tell you," the second COF snaps, entering the chalk outline and handing his partner the end of a measuring tape. "... 4.4 metres by 3.7 metres is >tappity< sixteen point two eight square metres. So you'd lose sixteen square metres of floor space for no good reason. I'm sorry, but there's no way we'd support you cutting this slab out."

"Oh don't be sorry," the PFY says, pushing the laden builder's trolley towards them. "They cut about 99% of that slab out yesterday."

. . .

>Ring<

"Yes?" the Boss answers, on the second ring.

"There's been the most terrible accident," the PFY begins...

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