Humans are notoriously good at underestimation. When we think something should only take 5 minutes, it’ll more likely take 30. Not only are we bad at estimating the time, but we make our time estimates based on best-case scenarios. That’s why projects like Boston’s Big Dig end up taking forever and going over budget.
Let’s take an example from my day. I have to install an HBA. I tell myself, “This should only take five minutes. I’ll pop open the server, replace the HBA, and boom I’m done.” Oh how very wrong.
The actual HBA replacement process:
1) Attempt to log into the server to turn it off. (Let’s not haphazardly press power buttons.)
2) Realize you don’t have the login or password for this server. E-mail requester.
3) Wait 2 and half days for requester to respond to e-mail for “Ultra Extra Super Dee-Duper High Priority” ticket.
4) Go into server and check if anyone is logged in before powering it off. See that 2 people are logged in. E-mail requester to tell them that everyone needs to be logged off before it’s powered off.
5) Squeeze stress ball.
6) Requester e-mails back and informs you that everyone is logged off.
7) Log back into server and finally power it off.
8) Locate server in lab and label cables in the back. (It’s best not to pull out the server before removing the cables. And it’s best to label said cables so you can put them back in the right place. Otherwise, add 20 minutes to this ticket for trying to locate the correct NIC.)
9) Look for masking tape in the drawer where you left it. See that it’s gone. Again.
10) Walk all the way over to the other side of the lab to see if there’s any masking tape on the shelf. There is no masking tape.
11) Wander through all the racks trying to catch a glimpse of just one roll of masking tape. There is no masking tape.
12) Ask someone if they’ve seen any masking tape. They reply, “Oh yeah, I think there was some on the shelf.”
13) Reply, calmly, “No, I already checked there.” Person shrugs.
14) Go to your cubicle and grab some post-its because there isn’t any damn masking tape.
15) Go back to server to start labeling cables. There is a roll of masking tape on top of a server in the next rack.
16) Swear loudly.
17) Label cables.
18) Remove cables from back of server.
19) Walk all the way around the lab to get to the front of the server because the racks are too close together.
20) Pull out server.
21) Remove server cover.
22) Pull out old HBA.
23) Realize you left the new HBA on your desk.
24) Swear loudly.
25) Walk back to desk and grab HBA.
26) Install HBA.
27) Replace server cover.
28) Push server back in until it gets stuck.
29) Swear loudly.
30) Find someone stronger than you to push the server back in and show it who’s the boss*.
31) Replace cables.
32) Remove masking tape from cables and throw masking tape pieces in the trash.
33) Walk all the way around the lab to get to the front of the server because the racks are too close together.
34) Keep walking. You’re almost there.
35) Power server back on.
36) Walk back to desk.
37) Ping server to confirm that it’s on. No connection.
38) Wait 15 minutes because it’s an old server that takes that long to power on.
39) Ping server to confirm that it’s on. It’s on!
40) Update ticket to inform requester that the ticket is complete.
41) Go get a cup of coffee.
42) Return to desk. Find frantic e-mail from requester that HBA isn’t working.
43) Search online for an hour and find out that HBA isn’t compatible with the server.
44) Hit face with palm.
45) Repeat steps 1-41 with new HBA.
* Angela, not Tony.