the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur

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The last support call anyone in my group had to log was on November 21st. Apparently one of our folks missed a call the weekend before last when they forgot to forward the support phone to him over the weekend, but otherwise things have been running very well, and it has been quiet on support.

We had been getting quite a few calls - many of them wake-up calls - before I identified a couple of root causes on my support tour before last and put in some changes to eliminate scheduling conflicts. It worked like a charm, and on my last support tour I did not field a single call. It was nice not having to handle 4AM support calls.

And this weekend I've had four calls so far. None of them were wake-up calls, but I've log 3-4 hours of work time to handle them. Since we are management, we do not get overtime for this, so every time the phone rings, my hourly wage goes down a bit. We get a small stipend for the week that we are on call, but all it takes is one morning system disaster to render that moot.

It's not that I am that bothered by the extra work - it's fewer hours than I have been logging voluntarily to complete some project work - but the support calls are disruptive. Every time the phone rings, I have to drop what I am doing and deal with somebody's crisis. It's a week out of both our lives where we are tied to this phone. We can't go to a movie, or pretty much anywhere where I could not react to the call within our 40-minute service level agreement.

At the moment, we are on a 1:3 rotation, where we are on call for a week, and then off for the next three. On the one hand, I prefer the shorter turn-around times like this because it's easy to get rusty when you are off rotation for too long at a stretch - especially with all of the ongoing changes in our systems. Then again, it also means that I have to put parts of my life on hold for 1/4 of the year. It's the stuff of burn-out.

It used to be much worse. At one time we had two support people on support at all times, one on secondary support (who was supposed to deal with off-hour calls and incidents, or step in when the primary person was running long hours), and then a primary support role whose schedule ran from 04:00-13:00 for (and 04:00-06:00 on the weekend). The primary job was good because you were not on-call during the off-hours, but overall it sucked because it meant that you were on a solid two-week sting of support, first working as secondary, then rolling over to primary the following week. Our group was almost double the size it is now, though, so we usually 4 weeks between each support stint.

Recently our new director started making noises about putting a second person on call again. We all said, "Please don't." I think his intentions are to ensure that there is backup in case the one support person can't be reached for any reason, but that has not historically been an issue. Lately our department spends a lot of effort on addressing things that aren't broken. It's not that our group thinks there is anything wrong with having some redundant coverage, but with only the four of us left in the group, it would put is in a position of putting half our lives on hold for this job. I don't think that part occurred to him.

It occurred to us, though.
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