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Preventing a Million-Dollar Mistake

Infrequently, an indirect expense such as me can throw around a number representing one’s value to the company.

Yesterday in Denver was a hodge-podge of helping people use our procedure-writing and job-invoicing program, beta-testing some materials in our SAP accounting system, and writing up a couple of enhancements to make the program better. The day ended with a mistake, but not where we thought it was at first.

The procedure writer came to me and said, “Check this out. The design calls for 600,000 lbs of sand, and the pricing page is charging for 12,000 sacks.”

I said, “That’s right. It says on the description of the sand that the sack size is 50 lbs. 600,000 lbs of sand divided by 50 lbs/sack is 12,000 sacks.”

“But most of the time our sacks are 100 lbs per sack. The program should have charged for 6,000 sacks. Our bulk loaders are going to look at 12,000 sacks and try to load 1.2 million lbs of sand for the job.”

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Giving Awards At Work

I have some good guys around me at work who are asked to do a lot, and they get a lot done. I’d asked for such people to be recognized in some fashion in the past, but this was the first time I’d had my nominations granted.

I nominated a total of three people a couple of weeks ago, and I was asked Tuesday to present two of them to our steering committee, a group of people 2-3 levels higher than I am in the company hierarchy. The third I will present on October 8.

Each co-worker receives an American Express gift card and a framed certificate stating not only the level of accomplishment but a description of exactly what they were being recognized for.

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Programming a Replacement

Since my transfer in May I’ve been traveling more than ever, but because it’s been to Houston, there haven’t been that many opportunities for hotel reports. Maybe next year will be more interesting, as the new project I’m on is supposed to go international.

Working on the project that replaces the one I’ve taught for 14 years is a mixed bag. The old system needs to be replaced, no question. We have hacked it into doing things now that we had no idea we would want to do 15 years ago. The typical fracture job 15 years ago involved going to location, pumping 7-10 different stages on each of up to 7 sets of perforations, and then going home in a day or two. Now, we can stay on location 5-7 days and pump over 15 stages each on over 60 different sets of perforations. People are making shortcuts with our system because it’s too slow, and when things aren’t done right it makes other people work harder down the road.

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HAL iPhones Sell Other Phones

An observation:

When I was at the company office in Calgary, almost everyone was issued a BlackBerry, and I only remember one person who had an additional, personal phone. She had one because she wanted a phone with a US number.

When I was in a HAL office in Pennsylvania, the company-issued iPhones were everywhere, and almost everyone in my classes had also purchased a personal phone.

AT&T and Verizon have to be loving this.

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Addicted to Kludge

This trip to Canada while long has been good. It was cool to see some areas where we are doing a really good job, and it was useful to see some things where we are just getting by. I had the privilege yesterday of giving a report in Calgary of what’s being done and where we are headed.

One of the things that I as a trainer have to react to in service to my corporate neighbor is theĀ kludge — a computer software term, but I’ll redefine it to be that temporary fix that gets the job out the door but often has adverse long-term implications. We think we get away with the kludge because the result of our behavior isn’t communicated back to us in a timely fashion. Those affected by the kludge decide it’s not worth the effort to communicate what went wrong. That’s a mindset that I get to break.

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Calgary, So Far…

…has been a lot of work and some fun.

My co-worker Fernando and I have been up here all week teaching our Canadian proposal writers how to use our new proposal system. Moving from one system to another has its initial detractions, but the new system does so much more not just for them but for others who depend on them.

The deployment has shown us a little bit about our application and shown them a little bit about themselves. Going to the new system has shown the proposal writers how much they assumed in doing the next design. Often when we go to work it feels like we’re the guys ripping off old, nasty bandages and putting medicine and new bandages on.

Our application has had minor issues dealing with the metric system up here, but we can get them fixed. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of this deployment I could write a proposal using m3 instead of bbl, MPa instead of psi, and kg instead of lbm.

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