Friday, November 19, 2010

Multiple Personality Disorder: Service Migrations and Perspective

I should have more sympathy for my campus's migration to Banner, which was finalized (mostly) in August. I should, particularly since I'm part of the ILS migration to WMS here at the library, and I know that bugs can be surprising, data can be unmungeable in teh short term, and that errors in migration occur. But I do not have much sympathy. This made me feel like a shabby person, so I am trying to tease out why. My reasons:

User Disruption. The Library has been very careful to keep our old systems up and running with no interruption while we test the new system. Yes, you can test our sexy new WorldCat Local install, but there are big red letters over it saying that the availability info is only available and up to date in our current catalog (which most of our users are accustomed to). We haven't jacked up any accounts, we haven't fiddled with anything for the user, because we are busy kicking the crap out of the tires before we set it loose on our users. While I'm sure the Records office and campus IT did the same, looks like there are a few important bugs that weren't fixed before going live for this (the second!) round of class registration.

Side of Migration. This, I think, is the one I'm most interested in, in terms of user perception. In our migration, I know all (or most) of the buggy stuff, the workarounds, the uglies and warts, and because I'm part of the team working on the implementation, I have developed - well, if not a certain patience, then a level of understanding that there may occasionally be moments of FUBAR. It's part of the process, it's normal. On the other hand - and yes, I know, shame on me - as a user, I have zero patience for that sort of thing. I want to be in, do my business, use the service as it is intended, and be on my way. Even as I rationally recognize that the Records office is facing an even more massive data migration with its own complications, I don't care. I want it to work when I have to use it. (Which it didn't.) I am not much interested in the intricacies or workarounds or all of the massive work that went into the system. I just want a working system.

This was a nifty kick in the pants for me today - as I get bogged down in details of WMS and how our data is displaying or not, and what is functional or not, my users are not going to be interested in the pieces that work. They will be interested in whether it does what it is supposed to do - in its entirety! - so they get the service they need and can move along.

I am consciously trying to be more generous about the campus migration (even though they had multiples new staff lines funded and added to the system for the project and spent kazillions, while we are making due with static budget. Ahem). I am. I try to will wait patiently for the fix that will get me into my classes for that doctorate I'm working on. I will try to make my user-self as sympathetic as my backend-self.

But I can't make any promises. As a user, I expect the same sort of excellent (fast, efficient, friendly) service provided to me as I and my staff provide when we're on the other side of the desk. I'm spoiled.

1 comment:

Mr.Dance_n_Libraries said...

Hi Colleen,

Stumbled on your blog as I searched for blogs about "new librarians". Anyway, interesting stuff here...

As a former ballet dancer who now works for a non-profit that--in a nutshell--tries to help dance companies, libraries and archives preserve their dance materials of all formats, I am heavily concerned about the way that the Humanities are treated in these hard economic times.

I was really sad to learn that the dance department at the state university that I went to for school recently cut several dance department instrucotrs--many of whom had been there for YEARS.

Anyway, I don't have any answer--I just thought I would let you know that there are other folks out there who are concerned about all of this as much as you.

(And I won't even mention the fact that many of those much-loved science/technology departments tend to be funded by corporations who design bombs to kill people in other countries--that's a rant for another day...)