Location: The Working Centre 58 Queen Street South, Kitchener, ON
Date: September 19th, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
=================### Future session: Documentation
– What do you document?
– What tools do you use?
### Future session? Coming up with time/effort estimates?
– Have you taken over from another person leaving? What was helpful? What was frustrating?
Our IT hats
– Schoolteachers: often one person gets picked to wear the IT hat
– Small non-for-profit, 25 staff
– Approaches to succession at a large company
– Another co-op job was not as smooth
– He was working for a small startup where the emphasis was getting things as soon as possible with no succession of any kind
– Succession horror stories (small nonprofits)
– When going to new organizations
– He worked for an insurance company. Their disaster planning was based on insurance.
Post #: 17
– Worked for a university press
+ He kept the job for 30 years
+ He had a lot of autonomy in writing his job descriptions
+ Early on they had their own UNIX system and some people on Windows using UNIX tools
* User training was not difficult because typographers know how to type to get stuff done
+ But in 1999 things changed. Kids these days! They only know how to use word processors
+ Passing on old skills was hard
+ When he went on leave he hired a friend who knew the same skills
+ When he was getting closer to retiring there were a lot of meetings about the stuff he did. Other people were learning this but others didn’t think they could handle the whole thing.
* The people who took his job have good communication skills and could change things to their preferences
* He found that his meetings were collaborative and good for problem solving
+ Things are going well but are slower
* eg there are fewer spreadsheet manipulation abilities
+ There is documentation in wikis. People can read them but not write to them easily.
+ Have others dismantled your work since you left?
* They were thinking of shutting down the Linux servers
* They were going to migrate the functionality to a virtual machine
* The server ran for a year without being rebooted and continued to work
+ Working with text files on local servers can be simpler than the cloud, because of black boxes
* He had a lot of discipline to the structure of the data
* black box: you have a promise of input and output, but you don’t know what is happening inside
* If the input data changes then everything can get messed up
* Can you troubleshoot problems when they come up
* Black boxes mean you can change the inputs and examine the outputs, but this is trial and error- Is there good software for putting bounding box information on EPS information. He found a script that worked that was made of Perl and shell script.
– At TWC
– Mind the bus factor and stay away from public transportation
– Having good documentation is helpful. How does it get created?
– Never admit you know computers
– How do you keep documentation up to date as things change?
– Make documentation accessible
– Get good at trawling other people’s work
– Do regular training for staff and volunteers
– Start people small if you can
– Make new people do documentation as they work
Worries and Challenges
– Being the person who gets hit by the bus
– People think that the cloud solves backups and IT administration
– How hard will it be to step into a new position?
– How many times will you be called after you left?
– Choosing the wrong successor could be a disaster
– Finding time/resources to transfer knowledge
– How do you learn the system while being careful and not destroying everything in a burning ball of flame
– Sometimes contractors get commissions with promises they cannot keep