Wow..it’s been nearly a month since I’ve written anything here. I’m ashamed to say that I have been so busy-swamped (slammed, really) at work that I’ve had no time to simply *think*. I don’t usually talk about my work, out of respect for my employer, but I’m going to today. Please note: nothing that I am about to say should reflect negatively in any way, shape or form against my employer…this is just a way for me to express, in a literary way, the things which are keeping me busy these days.
For those who may not know, I am a programmer. I majored in Accounting and worked as an accountant for a few years before I realized that my first true love is computers. So I went back to school and earned a Master in Information Technology and I’ve been working in the Higher Ed field ever since. I can honestly say that this was the absolutely the best thing I could have ever done and that I really love my job. No, really.
With that said, I am working at a small liberal arts college in the Northern suburbs of Chicago. Just under 1450 undergraduate students, about 65% of which live on campus. It is a very pretty campus to work on too. In the IT department we have 3 full-time helpdesk people, 1.5 network people, 1 server dude, 1 telephone/helpdesk supervisor and 2 administrative computing people, of which I am one. My boss and I field all questions regarding our campus’ student information system, and a few auxiliary systems. Needless to say we are completely overwhelmed with the amount of work that we have on our desks. To top it all off, we purchased the web front-end of our system and are in the process of implementing it. We are about to introduce online registration to our student body. Talk about stress!
One of the opportunities that we have as implementers is that we get to ask people to re-evaluate their business processes. Why do you do what you do? What does it accomplish? What if it could be done another way? What is the specific end result that you are looking for? As with any new system, the time of implementation is a great time to address these issues. The challenge is that the school has a tried and true process for student advising, and yet the software has specific constraints that it imposes. Learning to judge when to change a process because the system simply cannot mimic it is tough. This is one of the things causing me to turn prematurely grey.
The other challenge we have is that not all of our data is where it should be. Even though we have a fairly sophisticated and robust software system/database, we’ve been on it for 13 years. We’ve learned how to trick the system into doing what we want it to do, even if it sometimes produces incorrect data. Having to go back and fix the data then becomes my problem…one that is sucking up all my time and brain power and turning those blonde hairs grey.
So, now you know where my grey hair is coming from. On a personal note, I do have pictures of my “new” living room and the shelf that I put up in my bedroom…maybe I can get them posted this weekend for you.