A Cautionary Tale
There’s a story that sometimes makes the rounds here at Atech. We thought that, perhaps, our customers might want to hear about it.
The Broken Stair
A business has offices all over a three-story building. There’s a step on the way up to the top floor which is broken; if you step on it you’re likely to lose your balance. You might fall, or spill your coffee, or drop something important and breakable.
But it’s one step, and it’s easy to hop over, and rather than ask someone to fix it the staff on the top floor learn to skip the third step on that staircase.
Work continues as usual, and nobody really notices – except when someone new arrives. They slip the first few times and have some scares.
“Oh,” their colleagues say, “yeah, we all know about that. Just watch the step.”
One day someone has a meeting on the third floor. They’re new, and they don’t know, and have arrived to consult on something – so they’re in the mood to be helpful.
They nearly fall, and the person leading them up tuts and apologises.
“You know,” the newcomer says, “I do some carpentry. I can fix that.”
The broken stair is finally fixed, and the newcomer wonders – what else is broken that doesn’t need to be? What problems go unrepaired just because someone found the workaround and everyone uses that?
Because we offer an IT consultancy service to major businesses, many of them with an IT infrastructure which has grown and evolved by adding new applications and upgrading legacy equipment for years if not decades, the story of the broken stair is never far from our minds – because these broken stairs are never the reason we’re contacted.
We’re called in to prepare for a major project. It’s while we’re completing research and preparation that an issue comes up; maybe it’s a lack of compatibility between two databases which means there’s an additional, manual step to be completed every day.
An inefficiency that could easily be avoided if it had been reported and a proper fix found. A broken stair.
The transition from older, often bodged-together IT infrastructure to a single, unified, modern cloud-based system is a great time to catch that broken stair and, along with it, the filing cabinet you have to lift slightly to the left to open the drawer – and every other step of the metaphor.
It’s not the only good time, though – and it’s not the best reason.
The best reason to fix these broken stairs is that, next time a problem like that comes up, it gets reported. Fixing these issues creates a culture that flags and deals with these minor problems inside your company.
Fixing these issues properly, encourages a culture that handles inefficiencies.