“Technical skill is mastery of complexity, while creativity is mastery of simplicity” – Erik Christopher Zeeman

In the past I’ve been called technical…Usually in the phrase, “Look, I don’t want you to get to technical in this meeting.” Heck, if I didn’t know any better I would think that was an insult.

But I don’t think I’m that technical. There are many more people a lot more technical than I. I think of myself as procedural….as in, “A standard procedure could remove the complexity of what we are trying to do and make it simpler…and more efficient!”

To wit the situation I’ve seen with turns in the Enterprise Data Warehouse: They are complex…very complex with many rules and exceptions. At least that is how it appears. And, in general, appearance (perception) is reality. This is further complicated by having each developer do their own turn requests, which in turn is complicated by the turnover, especially with the contracted/offshored resources.

So what is the cost of all this complexity?

  • Miscommunications
  • Delays
  • Defects
  • Rework/Resubmissions

It’s like throwing sand in a transfer case! So what is the answer? My proposed solution would be twofold:

  1. Create a living document that consolidates all the turn request processes/knowledge/lessons learned into a single, cohesive standard operating procedure.
    1. Create a logic-branched procedure so that someone could literally ‘walk through’ the process…step by step.
    2. Cover all aspects of a turn: Sign-offs, security requests, document transfers, code file staging, job templates, etc.
    3. Create examples for the most common cases.
  2. Have a turn Subject Matter Expert (and a backup) who is responsible for all turns within a unit.
    1. They would serve as the liaison between the DBA group and the unit doing the work.
    2. They would advise/facilitate all turns.
    3. They would provide quality control and feedback for the procedure outlined above.
    4. They would automate what pieces of the process that can be automated.

And the best part? This is not theory. This is how my old unit operates day in and day out; regular turn or emergency turn. It works, it works well, and has allowed the unit to split out some of their resources to work on other projects (like Mobile Computing!). Gotta love simplicity!

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