Thursday, 11 June 2009

Exec cause floods in Sheffield again!

Well, what an interesting day yesterday was. Interesting in the Chinese sense of the word of course.

It began well - the exec finished our strategic break where we'd discussed many things. We'd looked at different personality types and spent some time analysing ourselves to see how we best interact and communicate. We'd looked at team dynamics and communications within teams, both our own and others in the department and spent some time coming up with some actions to improve how some teams work. The current financial climate had taken up a lot of time, and we looked at a number of scenarios as to how we could reduce our costs but continue not just to maintain core services but also maintain innovation. This will require some very different ways of working and we will need to keep an open mind as we explore different ways of doing things. Outsourcing our student email to Google for example could be the first of a number of such moves as "software as a service" becomes more accessible to us. Reviewing some of our very expensive software deals and replacing with cheaper open source products might also be an option, but this is unlikely to reduce staffing costs. Any serious financial reductions will certainly lead a reduction in the quality of our service in some areas - or much more likely, a removal of services completely - but this needs to be managed carefully in discussion with our main customers.

So after this quite intensive round of discussions we set off home. I'm the only twitter user in the Exec, and as we came down the A1 in fairly bad rain I began to notice tweets from colleagues and friends in Sheffield about torrential rain (or rain of biblical proportions as someone described it!), thunder, more rain,and then that terrible word - floods. Details began to be posted of road closures and heavy traffic - gridlocked in some areas. We stopped at a service station just outside Sheffield to stock up on the essentials - chocolate and water - and were able to plan our route into Sheffield accordingly, someone having kindly tweeted me the link to the council web sited with the road closures on. Still took an hour to get across Sheffield, but at least we were prepared, so thank you Twitter friends. It didn't escape anyone's notice that the last time Sheffield flooded, the exec were away!

Then, later at night I noticed our web pages had stopped loading and our portal seemed to be unavailable - a work colleague had just posted in twitter so I knew he was around, so I asked him to look. Other work colleagues (and some who used to work with us) picked up my tweet and began looking. In about 5 minutes I had gathered lots of information about various systems which were unavailable and was able to make a detailed report to the technical team. Turned out to be a faulty load balancer which was soon fixed.

Our out of hours incident procedure is being reviewed at the moment - perhaps we should include Twitter in it!

1 comment:

Graham Hill said...

May I be so bold as to suggest that the next exec away day is scheduled outside the monsoon sason in sheffield! It was dry all day in Bradford - send your students here for a balmy Summer!