Monday, August 22, 2005

Double it and move up to the next unit of measure

Today I spent the whole day creating a support administration system for all of our partners. We have made attempts at this in the past, but in order to cope we have decided that support has to change to a more structured approach.

Sometimes we have been overwhelmed with requests for assistance, more than 50% are usually not our problem and in some weeks almost all the 'fault reports' are nothing to do with us. However, every time we get a message saying 'there's a problem here' we have to check whether or not there really is a problem.

This in itself wastes time, particuarly when we are in the middle of something else and have to stop doing that to check out if there is a problem. Having structured approach lets us separate the support from us individually and prioritize according to our priorities rather than responding to other people's priorities.

What this means that any of our partners can either go to a webpage and complete a form describing the problem or send an email to a designated address. If they use the form then they will get either an email or SMS message in response, so they know that we have received the form and are dealing with it.

This project was one of three I want to complete this week and I had been concerned that it would take more than half the week so that I might not actually get to the other things that need doing this week.

This is particuarly in light of a rule of thumb in writing computer programs 'estimate how long it will take, double it and move up to the next unit of measure'. This means if you estimate it will take 2 days, it's likely to take 4 weeks! So its very pleasant and unusual to complete a computer programming task in less time that I would expect.

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