Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Old Job/New Job

My main job at my old job was to create daily schedules for Dentists
and Dental Hygienists. For most of my 18ish months we used a database
run through Microsoft Access. It was messy, but it worked well and
being an Access based database it was really fast. There were always
mistakes, but using the database wasn't exhausting or tiresome to use.

In the beginning of December I was sent to User Acceptance Testing for
a new Dental system. An Internet based system that would connect all
the institutions so everything would be shared right away. There were
some major problems. No one was able to complete the scripts we were
given and the system got delayed.

At the end of January there was a second User Acceptance Testing. This
one went better. The scripts could be completed this time. The problem
was that scripts were fairly useless. To test what the scripts wanted
us to test we had to create fake files or tasks right before we ran
the test. We always had what we were looking for to make the scripts
work because we had just created what we need. It was nothing like
real life.

There was one point when people were arguing over which columns should
be placed where when finally I got upset and told everyone that we
weren't looking at the new system from a real world view. We had no
idea how well things would run or what columns we needed most until
there was a real world test. And that real world test would come at
the pilot for the new system.

The pilot was, of course, at my facility. I knew things would be okay.
The system was messy, but I could see a lot of good in it. We had a
very strong team and I knew the two ladies I worked with would be able
to pick up how to use the system in a short amount of time. And they
did. Unfortunately, we realized quickly that even though the word
"Schedule" was in the name of the system, the system wasn't really
built for scheduling. It was like the first version had the scheduling
down then the guys in charge and the design team started adding to the
system, then adding more and more, but never checked to see how the
new stuff affected the scheduling part of the system.

Yes, in the strictest sense we could create a schedule for the
clinicians, but it was very hard. We had to export date into Excel so
we could sort and eliminate and then we had to check three different
places in the system to make sure it was appropriate to schedule the
appointment and then we could finally schedule the appointment. An
appointment that, literally, took two minutes to schedule in the old
database took ten or more minutes to schedule in the new system.

Our solution was to schedule the clinicians an extra day in advance
giving us a buffer and always allowing our appointment notices to be
printed on time. The buffer didn't help with stress though.

Stress levels were pretty high when we started using the new system
and they stayed the same, or increased, as time when on. As the pilot,
we shook the hell out of the system and revealed a lot of its
weaknesses, unfortunately the most common answer was to suck it up and
make it work. Yes, there were some fixes, but they were minor, and
nothing addressed the major problem, which was that the damn thing ran
slow and it got slower over time. They kept telling us that we needed
more RAM, but we were never given more all the way up until the day I

Part of the reason I was so eager to leave was the stress level.
There's only so long a person can take it and I was near my limit when
I interviewed for this position. I assumed that since I was moving
over to a place that was just getting started things would be
different. There would be plans in place and lots of extra help when

As with almost every time I expect the best in life, there were no
plans and there was no help.

I came in and was put straight to work. No training. The woman who
started the week before me was put straight to work without training.
The woman who had been here since December, working alone, didn't get
any training and only mostly knew what to do. Hence, lots of stress,
which doesn't go away.

Some days are slow because when I ask for things to do I'm not given
anything or I'm just waiting for responses so I can spring into
action. Some days are fast because I have a lot of phone calls to make
or letters to get out or mail to open and I have people over my
shoulder, watching me. Both kinds of days are stressful.

The stress has caused one person to be very quick to pass the blame. I
know she's tired, but twice she has tried to blame things on me that
the first time had nothing to do with me and the second time was a
misunderstanding. Both times, she was very quick to try to focus the
blame on me. The first time I had to pull documentation to show her
that I didn't cause any thing to happen. I hate being blamed for
things that aren't my fault and I really hate having to pull out proof
that lays blame with someone else. The blame game adds to my stress

The stress won't go away for a while, either. Yes, the level isn't as
bad as it was at my old job, but the stress is building. As more
people begin to freak out the closer we get to the opening day the
more they freak out on us and want us to do the impossible. The more
they get angry when we try to help and they don't want the help; and
the angrier they get when they think we're not helping enough. Can't

And part of me really wishes I never came here. Miserable here or
miserable there? At least there I liked more of the people, on a
personal level.

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