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North American Network Operators Group

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Re: The MSN Messenger

  • From: Larry Sheldon
  • Date: Sat Jul 07 08:35:12 2001

> Since it is always difficult to predict how long it will take
> to fix a problem, the question for the PR people always is:

[rest of setup snipped]

I am of the opinion that degree of difficulty has nothing to do with the
obligation to customer.

We try very hard to tell all we know as early as possible.

Sometimes that is in the form of "At hhmm TZ on month, day, year we are going
to xxxxx.  We expect this to take estimate, but experience teaches that you
should plan on longerestimate."

Sometimes it is in the form of "We have [noticed|been told] that xxxx has
failed.  Outages of this type usually take estimate because explanation of
longer steps.  We will provide updates here at the shorter of half-estimate
and 2 hours."

And once in a while it is in the form of "We have [noticed|been told] that
xxxx has failed.  At this time we have no idea what is going on--we will
provide an update here as soon as we know something."

These announcements are made to a mailing list (jaynet-alert@creighton.edu)
and to a telephone recording (402 280-1116).

Our experience teaches that telling all we know as early as possible
reduces sharply the number of calls, and the number of escalations.

Early on here I said "We try very hard to tell all we know as early as
possible."  Some of us are better at that than others of us.

I am convinced that I can see the difference in customer response, but
at the time of the incident and over time after it.

The problem is now that sometimes everybody assumes we already know, and
nobody calls us to tell us about something we didn't know.  We have enough
alarm mechanisms in place that that doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

I would say "try it, you will like it", but it is one of those things that
you have to make a long-term committment to because you have to teach your
customers that they are getting the straight scoop.  Depending on your
past practices, that can be a long and painful process.

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.                                                                       .
- L. F. (Larry) Sheldon, Jr.                                            -
. Unix Systems and Network Administration                               .
- Creighton University Computer Center-Old Gym                          -
. 2500 California Plaza                                                 .
- Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A.  68178       Two identifying characteristics  -
. lsheldon@creighton.edu                  of System Administrators:     .
- 402 280-2254 (work)                Infallibility, and the ability to  -
. 402 681-4726 (cellular)               learn from their mistakes.      .
- 402 332-4622 (residence)                                              -
. http://www.creighton.edu/~lsheldon    Adapted from Stephen Pinker     .
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