Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lazy with forethought

My current job is installing computers in small offices across the country. We are talking well over 10,000 offices, and each office has an inventory sheet as part of the process. (Obviously I'm not the only one involved...)

Unfortunately, the sheet was designed very poorly. There is a part of the sheet that must be filled out by hand. That part was editable text. The rest of the sheet could potentially be filled out by cut and pasting from email, except it was actually an image. I am pretty sure that this was done for formatting purposes, allowing slight resizing of the left side without affecting the spacing of the right. The result is a form that has data available electronically, but must be entirely filled in by hand.

I wound up making my own version, with the eventual end result a form where you could cut and paste part of the standard schedule email as a single blob of text and that would fill in about 2/3 of the form. The rest could be typed, in fields that were in the order you would usually find the information. Took about 90 minutes all told, but it will save me alone that much time in a couple weeks. (It is also trading very boring administrative work for problem solving, so even if the net result was no time saved, it was a more pleasant use of time)

I don't know if this is the best way to do this, but it is certainly better. Things like the original form bug me--The solution was simple and if the rest of the installers adopt it, this could save thousands of hours, a few minutes at a time.


  1. The pay structure makes milking almost pointless-Guaranteed weekly hours, plus completion bonus for each finished job. "milking" would be at about half my effective rate.