Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Visiting the Pharm

After five week, I finally got the chance to go out to the new client site and interview. (Since this is a pharmaceutical company, I will protect their identity by referring to them as "The Pharm.")

Three of us from The Bank Help Desk went out at the same time. The Pharm representatives appreciated this because they were able to bring us into the secure building all at once rather than having to run up and down the stairs for each of us. They had apparently been scheduled for 6 meetings, one every half hour.

Of the three, I was to go last so I loitered in the Help Desk area. And it was familiar, in a sense. There was one person that I had trained at The Bank and had moved out to The Pharm a year ago. In addition, there were four of the Old Guard who had also been at The Bank and had moved out. That was great because, in talking to them I got a sense of just how much better this was.

For one, they've unscrewed all the lights. Walking through the door into the Help Desk, you would think that everyone had gone home for the day but most people are working only by the light of their monitors. Others have desk lamps. Only the Notes Team seem to like the light so they are all on one side of the room with ceiling lights.

They have wireless headsets so that can move about freely. One person told me she had gone to the kitchen/break area while on a call but that was just a little too far and the signal was breaking up. I'm reminded of a webcomic I scripted two years ago.

The Pharm is much more interested in issue resolution than in clearing the queue like The Bank is. There is no one looking over your shoulder telling you that you've been on the call too long (7 minutes) and telling you to move on. They want the issue resolved and if it takes 30 or 45 minutes that that's how long you should take. There are metrics such as availability, first call resolution and the like but they are easily met by competent workers and there is no pressure.

When I got the chance to meet with the reps, I was comfortable and confident. They asked one of the common interview questions; "What do you think is your weakness?"

"I tend to take whatever time is necessary to resolve an issue in spite of company policy. I refuse to end a call just because my 7 minute time limit is up, and I've flat out told my managers that as well. Where that is a liability at The Bank, it sounds like that's actually the way you do things here."

When my Site Manager and Operations Manager first talked about this opportunity, I got the impression that my training experience would be utilized as part of what they called "the integration." I assumed that would be between The Pharm's helpdesk and the new staff from The Corporation. Well, I was mislead. The integration they were talking about is that The Pharm used to have a third party supplying their hardware support. The Corporation is now taking care of hardware and is also taking over the Help Desk. The integration will be between the Help Desk and Hardware arms, make them a contiguous spectrum of support. My training experience is probably not going to be a factor in that. They also rely a lot on their knowledge base application for training. I may yet be involved in that, but it's not going to be what I thought.

When I got back downtown, my Site Manager was excited to hear how it had gone. I think he was a little disappointed that I seemed so blase about the whole thing. It's not that I'm disappointed but I've gotten used to these things not panning out and what had at first seemed like a sure thing has been shown to not be so sure.

My ego did get a boost, though, when my Site Manager said that he had really wanted to do something for me. He said that I had done everything here at the Help Desk and should have been moved up to Team Lead or some other manager position but there simply wasn't such a position available.

He's looking at this move out to The Pharm as a promotion but I'm seeing it as a change of environment with more pay. How much more pay, I still don't know. Since I was talking to representatives of The Pharm, they only knew operational details. I'll have to wait for The Corporate Overlords to make their pay offer. The Pharm guys said that they want to start moving quickly so I might be hearing about this in a few weeks.

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