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Service level aggravation

by Marrick on January 10, 2005

"I being of sound mind…"

Last Will and Testament? No, this is a service level contract. The training department has decided that they want to become a semi-autonomous organisation within the company and as such have sought to renegotiate their inter-departmental agreements.

This caught the I.T department on the hop, Jiffy our I.T. Manager quickly realised this has nothing to with golf or rock climbing so delegated it to Mungo, the User Technical Support Manager. This was a rare moment of perspicacity for a man who quite frequently scores lower in tests than the Doom artificial intelligence parser. Mungo on the other hand is a thinker, although in a weasel-like-avoid-work-at-all-costs fashion admittedly. He took one long look at the draft letter and returned it to Training with a series of grammatical corrections scrawled in the margin.

This is a classical negotiating gambit, the opening shot of the three-phase postponement strategy. This comprises; quibble about technicalities like grammar and definitions, reject the entire document and replace it with something completely meaningless, wait for the counter blast and repeat phase one. It’s the management equivalent of 1 REM, 2 KILL *.*, 3 GOTO 1.

The old fox in charge of Training, Tony "Jaffa Cakes" O’Gormon wouldn’t wear it and rang Mungo to suggest a "closed door conference" to thrash out the agreement.

"A class act," said Mungo, "this calls for an I.T Departmental Meeting."

"Mine’s a scotch and a packet of smoky bacon," yelled Mungo, "double please". Jiffy pulled another tenner from his wallet.

We had retired to the Flange and Partridge because all the conference rooms at HQ were fully booked. Five minutes hacking into the Facilities Management PIM had sorted that out. Mungo suggested the convivial atmosphere would be more conducive to brainstorming than the office with all its interruptions.

"After all," he said as he prised open the budget’s miscellaneous expense category, "we’re talking the cost of a couple of hard drives here." Five hard drives later we arrived at consensus.

Jaffa Cakes O’Gormon was on the prowl; the SLA had exceeded all his wildest dreams. Although he had reservations about the paragraph referring to "installing any equipment necessary to maintain the integrity of the SLA", he was prepared to take it onboard because of the enormous concessions we’d agreed to. In particular his favourite was the termination clause, which was by mutual agreement. In his view he had us by the three and half inch floppies. Misplaced confidence can be so full of pathos can’t it?

As he wandered around his department the air of silence only interrupted by the sound of drumming fingers was oddly disquieting. Scurrying back to his office, he confronted Maureen his secretary.

"What on earth’s going on?" he demanded.

"It’s these new machines the I.T. Department gave us," she whined, "they’re so slow and the hourly server backups are causing chaos with the network."

Stamping into his office, Jaffa found a "brand new" 386 perched in the place where his lovely Pentium IV had previously existed.

"Five, four, three…" Mungo’s phone trilled, "quicker than I thought." he admitted as he answered, "Morning Jaffa, how’s things? No, I’m not taking the mickey. Well, it’s more dependable technology, one that meets the SLA exactly. Yes it is slow, but that’s the price we have to pay for reliability. By the way, we’ll be ripping out your Cat 5 cabling, coaxial cable is so much more dependable than 100 megabit UTP."

In all fairness they lasted three hours before caving in, which made Jaffa’s new cognomen "Pothole" all the more piquant. Meanwhile, I was detailed to pick up Mungo’s wheels from the carpark of the Flange and Partridge. Dropping it off, I commented, "I noticed a clanking noise coming from the boot, so I had a look. There’s three crates of Bolinger in the back."

"That’s not Bolly," Mungo said with a wink, "it’s hard drives."

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