Habush Habush and Rottier

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


It's UGM this week, which means that the lucky few are in Madison on a work-vacation and the rest of us are in the office, with less support than we're used to since all the Epic staff are making UGM run smoothly.

This week always reminds me of the thing I enjoyed most about working at Epic: directing traffic at UGM.

More than the swank office buildings with the fancy decor, more than the above-average cuisine, more than the relationships that I made with the customers I supported, I enjoyed directing traffic. It's one of those childhood dream things, you know? That's probably the closest I'll ever get to working on a road construction crew. 

However, since that's positive about Epic (and Epic doesn't like positive publicity: see this post) It behooves me to add something negative to even the balance. While as a TS I enjoyed the different opportunities that UGM offered, I definitely don't feel the same way about it now that I'm employed at a customer site.
Epic support disappears almost completely for this week, but the hospital doesn't shut down. There are still issues that need resolving, and Epic is too busy this week to help.

There are several ways Epic can handle this:
  1. They can keep doing what they're doing. Epic can keep pulling from all current staff to fill all the various positions necessary to make UGM successful. Cons: From the staff's perspective, it's just added work. Just because I was directing traffic didn't mean I had less actual TS work to do. It didn't go away, and it was expected that I still complete it--this, combined with a couple hours of UGM support, a couple hours of schmoozing with customers, and a couple hours of actually attending presentations. It makes for long, stressful days--one of the leading causes of burnout amongst Epic employees. Pros: It's cheaper for Epic. They don't have to hire temps and they don't have to pay their current staff extra; everyone is salaried.
  2. They can use staff only from non-customer facing positions. Use QAers and developers all day for one week. The world won't end if dev cycles are put on hold for one week. Cons: I don't know how many QAers and developers are currently on staff. There might not be enough to cover all the UGM staffing needs. TS who enjoy directing traffic don't get the opportunity to live the dream. Pros: Customers still get the support they're used to. There's no "downtime" or "delay in care". TS and IS get less burnout.
  3. They can hire temps. Event companies usually have staff for this. Epic can use them for a week. Cons: it'll be more expensive. Pros: These guys have experience. They know how to direct traffic. (We had to be trained in a 1-2 hour long course. Topics covered were how not to send mixed messages, how to sync the flag waving with hand signals, how not to have weak floppy wrists that confuse drivers.) It won't affect dev cycles or customer support. 
As Judy is fond of saying that "A company is just a collection of processes," I think it's beneficial to evaluate those processes every once in a while. Just because UGM runs smoothly every year is no reason not to seek ways to improve it. 

1 comment:

  1. As an ex-epic myself, i agree with every word you say, this post and prev ones. I hope they was a blog (or resources) like this when I left. Keep up your good work. Superb.