An Off-The-Cuff Discussion with Your Supervisor
Its Monday, and what a weekend! You ended up flying back home from one of your projects on Saturday afternoon. You could not catch a flight back home Friday night (your Friday off – by the way), because you could not get finished with all you needed to, until it was too late to even catch the last flight out. Oh, well it’s not the first time that’s happened; just part of the job.
First things, first; before you delve into anything right off-the-bat that would require more brain power than you have at the moment, you also realize that before you can kick-start your week, you are going to need some coffee. You get to the break room and the coffee pot is already empty.Why can’t people start a new pot of coffee after they empty the pot? While you’re waiting for the coffee to brew, your supervisor enters the break room. It seems you and he are on the same schedule this fine Monday morning. After some polite small talk; seeing you reminds him of a meeting he has later. He mentions that he needs to attend a staff meeting later this morning with the upper echelon to discuss projects of those in his group, and their current status. He says his meeting is not until 10 this morning (it’s already 7:30 but he thinks that should be time enough for me to put together some “updated info” on how my projects are going. Dang-nab-it!
All of a sudden, after a few sips of coffee, recent issues begin to visually run through your tired brain. By “recent”, this means; just late last week. You really have not had time to bare-down on any numbers yet. So much for “gradually easing” into a new work week.
Back at your desk, you begin to gather your thoughts and try to figure some means of pulling this all together. A couple of things you know for sure are the little design glitches that surfaced while the contractor was trying to fit-up some manifold piping, and the fact that the valves are a week late of the forecasted delivery, and still nowhere to be seen. These are both going to cost you some “extras” with your construction contractor, but you are not sure yet just how much. You are already behind schedule, and even though the valve supplier says the deliveries are “any day now”, this really does not help much. You are aware of the secret project grapevine system (you still do not understand how it works), and because of this mysterious system, you know everyone in the office is probably already well aware of these issues, and some may have even expanded their importance a little bit. So you know you need to address these in your little impromptu report this morning. I’m betting someone in that staff meeting will know about these issues, and my supervisor needs to be well informed.
Don’t you hate those little workspace cubicles? No doors to shut while you are trying to concentrate. It seems a lot of things went on last week in your absence, and it seems several coworkers feel a need to fill you in on all of it. Some of the gossip seems very interesting, and you would love to listen in on it, but you really need to pull yourself away, and continue to get that report put together for your supervisor. The phones (both the desk and cell) just keep ringing while your computer chirps away with email arrivals. … Who did they say got promoted to a director’s position? Your brain really wants to brake all this down so you can figure out how you fit-in, since this promotion will no doubt also affect you somehow, – maybe even a possible promotion for you too! Aw, never mind. Got to get back at it!
Just now someone comes by your “cube” and comments that he heard you were at the mercy of the contractor because of some design issues. While following up with the statement that I need to “grab my wallet and hold on, I understand it’s going to cost you a bundle” – I can only wonder how that secret project grapevine system works – amazing! I need to get some more coffee.
Does the above episode bring to mind any Mondays you may have had in your past? It’s typical of a few I’ve had. Thank goodness today we have computers and software programs that are probably much faster than the secret project grapevine system. As a good example, SunNet Solutions TM offers a new web base database management software called MyDat@IQ TM that never sleeps. It’s always there looking for data to manage. When data is entered by someone, or from another program (i.e. SCADA, updates to historical data, changes to the O&M procedures, etc.) anywhere and in any format; this database manager will be aware of it, and actually understand its relevance and what it represents through its initial customized programing.
Again, consider the above Monday episode and try to envision how using this database manager might have made things a little different.
During the initial conversation with your supervisor, imagine how nice it would have been to tell him you needed just a few minutes to put something together, and you would visit with him to go over it, and even provide him with some reports to take with him to the staff meeting.
So now you are saying “how is that possible at 7:30 on a Monday morning, after being out of the office all of the previous week (including most of Saturday)”.
To begin with, this database management software does not sleep (it’s on the web), and when data is entered somewhere (even through a phone app), it knows about it. It has the weekly and daily work reports that were entered by all your inspectors just this past Friday – once you finally left. It even has your travel expenses you updated this past Saturday night. It’s actually sitting there waiting to see if you would like to finalize your expense statement and send it out.
It has access to all historical data, including actual costs from past, paid and pending invoices, and it also remembers that you have a penalty clause in the purchase order issued to the valve vendors should they miss a delivery date. It can give you man-hours and costs based on past invoices for similar work, and of course this information will be offered up for any editing you might need to do, and actually give you an idea of how much you should expect to pay your contractor for any “extras” – Ha! No need to grab your wallet. And now that you know that you have penalties stated in your valve purchase orders, you may have already covered any “extra” costs for your contractor’s down time. You might want to pass this information along to your valve vendors. Who knows, you may have your valves delivered pretty quickly.
Oops, while you are doing enquiries to MyDat@IQ TM you are alerted to the fact that a couple of past invoices from your contractor were actually for too much money according to the specifics in the contract and the weld-count of your welding inspector. Well, my, my, my, who owes who money now? They may need to grab their wallet.
Let’s just overwhelm everyone at the upper-echelon staff meeting by printing out and providing your supervisor with your up to the minute reports. Go ahead and give them the charts that show how well the projects estimated costs, committed expenses and actual expenditures are all tracking so very nicely. Yeah, and go ahead; give them the most updated forecast for completion while you’re at it. And while you’re on a roll, go ahead and give them all this data all broken down to mind bogglingly miniscule items and segments – no problem, and so accurate too!
Now, after just a few minutes conferring with the software, take everything to your supervisor and spend a few minutes bringing him up to date. And look its only 8:30, and your supervisor is loaded for bear. Ok, take a little break now, and start your own rumors and gossip. Tell everyone the talk on the street is that you may be looking at a promotion soon, but be coy about it.
Ok, break over, and back to MyDat@IQ TM and on to one of your other projects; the IMP status of the El Paso to Houston, Texas 12” Pipeline system, or whatever system. You should have this done in time for lunch when you and your supervisor plan to discuss how the staff meeting went. Does anyone sense a sequel here?
By Randy Vaughn, SunNet’s Pipeline Database Management Solutions Advisor
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