Another sticky BSS story

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”
John Buchan
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Yesterday’s story about vendors building irreplaceable staff reminded me of another sticky BSS story.

A very big carrier I knew had a very complex billing process. It required a variety of custom scripts to pull pulleys and switch levers during a monthly billing run to ensure accurate bills were produced. Due to many rounds of redundancies, they’d found themselves in the position of having only one person who knew how and when to control these pulleys and levers.

Unfortunately for the carrier, this person had never really liked meetings and hadn’t really enjoyed being beaten by the management stick in his lengthy career with them. But he did like fishing. Being as irreplaceable as he was, he decided to attend work less and less, but go out fishing more and more, despite being on a standard 9-to-5 employment structure. It got to the point where he only showed up for work for about two days a month, which was enough time for him to ensure the bills went out with a minimum of errors.

Needless to say, this didn’t please the management very much, but what could they do? After a few years it became too much and the carrier fired him. You could say the next billing run didn’t go too smoothly with many, many irate customers jamming the carrier’s call centres.

He soon found himself accepting an apology from the carrier and insisting that his salary was doubled, with no questions asked about the number of days worked per month. Now I’m not sure of the numbers exactly, but I believe that 20-30 workdays per year at $15-20,000 per day leaves a lot of time for fishing and provides a lot of money for fishing equipment.

It pays to be irreplaceable…. but I dare say he’d earned it during his earlier “Busy” years, when he’d spent the time learning what every line of code of every script did so that he knew which levers and pulleys were needed in which order.

Read also the parable of the old ship builder for equivalency.

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