Monday, September 29, 2008

A duck paddling upstream?

Another month has gone by and I am re-reading what I have written in the past couple of posts... and thinking sometimes I feel like a duck paddling upstream in a river: There appears almost no activity on the surface and under the water the poor duck is paddling like mad to make progress against the current.

The annual report is now almost finished. I keep hoping it is finished and then there are more small changes to make. The annual report has taken a lot of my time, plus a lot of a couple of other peoples time in the UK. The overhead of red tape these days seems enormous. Gone are the days of getting on with the task and being trusted that you are getting on with the task [whatever that task is]. It's sad really - like the whole world has suddenly lost its innocence and has become a frantic fast moving bullet train.

We have also been struggling with personnel problems. One part time worker [who had been writing for us] causing us a large amount of time and effort. Since this person is part of the reason why we're here we couldn't just drop him like a lead balloon and duck and hide while the pieces fell everywhere. The fallout is still having effects on both time and energy.

In between that I have been doing some technical stuff for a new website we hoped to have up and running by October. We'll miss that deadline. The new website is 100% interactive - what people call 'Web 2.0' - very different in look and feel to anthing else we have done. The person who had been the developer on it is now on another project with us, so we have taken on a second developer to work on this. We're pretty sure we will have enough work for two developers over the next 12 months, but still this is a step into something bigger.

We have now taken on responsibility for an office in one Middle Eastern country, so that too is a step bigger. Both developers will work from this office. Its a good step and one of the plans is that the two developers will also be trained to take on the system administration for all the servers. They are starting to do this and have already relieved some of the pressure on Peter and myself. But this also means we need to train them - we did some training in August and have seen since then them taking on some of the responsibility for the system administration. Peter and I really like it when we find out they have sorted out a problem or installed something without having to come back to us for extra help information.

But... the big new Web 2.0 website does need our help and that has consumed some of my time over the last month. We heard that we should [hopefully] be getting an extra full time member of the team in January. A western trained System Administrator who will take over supervising and co-ordinating all the systems administration for us. Initially that is creating extra workload for me - getting the Job Description and other paperwork done, and trying to sort out how a visa will work for him. He will be based at out Cyprus office. We already have a desk waiting for him - a couple of weeks ago we were given some extra office furniture from another organisation here in Cyprus.

And on the change front, the office flat [used by the various Middle Eastern workers when they come here] had to be changed as the block that it was in will be pulled down this month. We have now found a new flat and moved everything to it. The new flat will be nicer - it's smaller and more compact, but much better quality. That change too took up time in my month.

My next month? Well... it will be a catch up month. Get the visa for our new worker sorted, get the web 2.0 site live, get other facilities working on our 'flagship' site, finally send in the annual report [must be by end of October] and hopefully have a slightly quieter month. Peter and I want to try to get some time for thinking/brainstorming together. Last Autumn we did this and it helped for what we did in 2008. We have a couple of things to add to it this year - one is a 'Risk Management' policy, the other a 'Reserves' policy. The reserves policy should be easy, but trying to work out risk management on what we do and how to reduce those risks, well... that's a different issue altogether!

As some of you know that I love sailing. Over the summer I have been lent an outboard motor. I used it yesterday when the wind was too light for sailing quickly back to the club. Now... if I can only find an 'outboard motor' to fix to this duck paddling desperatly upstream I'm sure we'll make more progress!