Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tale of the Swim-Lane Office

“Nice office space Ted! This room is huge!”

Ted was unpacking his single box of desk accessories. His desk was at the end of the very long narrow room. Mark was standing at the far end by the front door in the hallway.

The echo of Marks voice in the large empty room was noticeable.

The room was empty except for the desk.

“I know”, replied Ted. He plunked his stapler on the desk.

Mark took another sip of coffee as he walked through the room. There were various doors up and down both walls.

“Promotion?” he asked Ted.

“Nope” said Ted; his head down, digging deeper in his box. “I’m still a business analyst”.

“Huh”, said Mark. “What’s up?”

“Well … you know this big Sales project I’ve been working on?”

“Yeah, automating the reporting?”

“That’s the one. I had been after a system to handle this for some time”.

“I know. How did you finally sell it?”

“I didn’t” said Ted.

“But I thought …”

“I drew up an activity diagram – a flowchart - of all the steps I take to perform a task.”

“I saw it – it was huge – every person involved had their own swim-lane. I thought for sure that would sell your point for you.”

“It kind of did. It would seem that Phil doesn’t really understand business process diagrams.”

“Uh huh”. This was not news to Mark. “What’s your point?”

“When I showed him the diagram, and all the functions I perform to generate these reports – and how I have to take a little information from so many people …”

“… yeah? …”

“… and most of the diagram was all crammed into my tiny little swimlane ..”

“ .. you’re kidding ... “

“I wish I were. Phil thought I was complaining about office space!”.

“And so he gave you this big swim lane for an office”

“Yup. Phil said I needed more room to work. He didn’t want to hear another word about, and apologized for making me work in such cramped conditions all this time. He said I was a saint for not complaining until now.”

At that moment loud swearing could be heard from the tiny office through the middle door. Allan, the Vice President of Sales, was trying to cram his office furnishings into a space that equated to a small cubicle work space.

“Let me guess – the diagram didn’t show much activity for Al?”

“Well he only reviews the reports when they’re finished”, answered Ted.

“You mean Phil actually thought you were showing him an office floor plan to improve the sales reporting?” continued Mark.

“Yep.” Ted was shaking his head, still looking downwards – visibly uncomfortable with his fortune from the business owners misunderstanding.

“Phil says those reports make this company tick. He says we can’t function without those numbers.”

“He’s probably right” said Mark. “He refers to them as our Bible.”

A couple minutes passed as they stood together staring out across the city through the huge glass window.

“Well, congrats old man!” said Mark as he gave Ted a punch in the arm and a pat on the back. “It looks like you’re living large”.

“Uh … err.. Thanks” mumbled Ted.

“Well I better get to my desk before people start thinking I’m late,” said Mark, still wearing his coat and carrying his briefcase.

“About that …”, started Ted.

Mark turned to look at him. His face suddenly alarmed. “But I don’t have anything to do with Sales reporting!”.

“I know” said Ted. “I’m so sorry”.

“Where do I sit?” asked Mark.

“You’re not in my diagram”, replied Ted.

“Aw for crying out loud!” yelled Mark, as he spun to storm out the large room. It took several seconds for Mark to reach the door before he could slam it shut behind him.

Ted reached into his box and pulled out his tape dispenser and sat it on the desk next to the stapler.

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