Friday, February 5, 2010

Dear Frustrated User . . .

The setting: Our company has a very complex but necessary internal control function whereby managers are periodically asked to review the user access privileges of all their direct reports to determine if user access is appropriate. This includes access rights for all 300,000+ employees and various applications. The database to review your direct reports is, by default, ENORMOUS. However, my team provides specific filtering guidelines to help you quickly narrow your search to the desired population for review . . .

This email appeared in my inbox late one night. It has been excerpted, for brevity, and the names changed to protect the innocent, though I have kept the bad grammar intact. My response, save for the boring details, is verbatim.

Dear Mrs Chako's Team:

I have received the semi-annual email requesting me to perform a validation task. I took on the task hopping that it would go smoother than last time. As you may recall, I complained to you last time (04/14/09 email attached) about how tedious this recurring process was and my hope was quite high that this process had been improved. Well, at least I can say that it was quite a laughable experience for me and my cube neighbor. It took me again much longer (30 minutes) than what such task should take (5 minutes max) to validate 4 users.

30 minutes and 4028 mouse clicks to validate the access for 4 users ! Actually, after 200 clicks, I found a short cut in the address bar to bypass the ‘next page’ button at the bottom of the screen. Otherwise, 4028 clicks at 6 seconds per sequence (screen refresh + scroll down to find the next page button) represent about 6 hours of work to do the task. 30 minutes @ $70 USD per hour * nber of managers who received this email represent a lot of money for the MEGACORPORATION that could be spent in a wiser way. I know that other managers around me have faced similar issues and wonder why can’t we get more efficient system.


I am sure there must be a good explanations to this. However, the fact that 2 managers at least from two different cultures have faced the same experience shows that whatever current solution you have put in place is not obvious to us and ultimately does not reflect well on HP’s ability to thrive for efficiency. I took time to write to you a second time. I hope that this time I will be heard.


Frustrated User, Could Klearly Use Patience (hereafter referred to as FUCKUP)

I replied immediately, having just performed the task myself.


I’m sorry your experience was very disappointing and I’m sure that was frustrating. We, too, encounter some anomalies . . . and I’ll see if our team can provide any insight on how . . . to prevent that in the future.

"Smart person on my team" did provide some good instructions, though, on how to sort and minimize your direct reports. Using the filter function, you can quickly get down to your selected reports in a pretty concise, easy format with one or two clicks, not forcing you to go through page by page.

I’m including the section of the instructions highlighted, explaining how to filter, as per the email:
Required Actions:

  1. [Do easy step 1]

  2. [Click on the link on the right of the first letter of your last name]

  3. Hover over the manager column, use the drop down (click on the “X” sign) right of the manger’s column to reveal managers names. (text was bold in the original email)

  4. Click on your name.

I think if you follow that procedure in the future, you’ll find this process can actually be pretty quick.


Mrs Chako, VP

He responded later:

Dear Mrs Chako:

Thanks for your timely answer.

Yes it is easier and much quicker to perform the action when you force yourself to follow the recommended actions. . .



I couldn't help myself . . .

Well put, FUCKUP – TGIF (Thank God Idiots can be Fired) . . .

I do agree that we have had many HR and other administrative necessities that do take much of our time, when we’d rather be focused on our business. But like the owner’s manuals that my husband refuses to read: even good user instructions are only helpful when we users actually have the patience and time to read them!

Mrs. Chako, VP


Respectfully submitted,

The Wife


DrChako said...

Somehow I knew this would be my fault.


Riggstad said...


23skidoo said...

I was chuckling all the way through that. It happens so much to me that I've taken to just re-sending the email I've already sent describing processes. 9 out of 10 times it is a highly comped employee.


SirFWALGMan said...

The scary part is the other 100 people who are too scared to speak up so you do not know they are wasting time scrolling through 4000 pages.

Drizztdj said...

When creating a database as a side project I get those emails (with the wonderful grammar fun attached!).

Funny thing is, FUCKUP spent just as much time on that email as he/she did with the report. If not more.

I think a business course on time management and prioritzation should be in FUCKUP's future.