Just gimme an ETA!

The company I work for is a big software company. And because it is so huge, everything takes forever to do, and has to go through a gazillion approvals.

When I used to be a customer, it was frustrating. Now that I am an employee, it’s fucking embarrassing.

I cringe when I read through the histories of some of our open bugs. They tend to read like this:

  • Day 1
    Customer: Hey this isn’t working.
  • Day 2
    Support Person: Try this one really easy thing.
  • Day 3
    Customer: That didn’t work.
  • Day 4
    Support Person: Oh. OK, try this other little thing.
  • Day 5
    Customer: That didn’t work either.
  • Day 6
    Support Person: Oh. Um… lemme get back to you.
  • Days 7-8
  • Day 9
    Support Person: Hey, I’m going to pass this to another person who can better help you.
  • Day 10
    New Support Person: Hi. I’m gonna need a day to read up on this bug.
  • Day 11
    New Support Person: Can you try this one little thing?
  • [Repeat.]

To be fair, a lot of the times the customer takes a long time to try what was suggested. And bugs are hard to troubleshoot because the support person doesn’t know what the customer has added to the base application (usually a LOT) so it takes time to narrow down what it could be. So it’s not always because of us that a ticket drags on and on. Still, speaking from experience as a former customer, the slowness of our responses is maddening.

This is what I’m dealing with at the moment: one of our customers is in the middle of an upgrade, but when they applied a recent patch to their test environment, it caused their application to crash. Obviously, they cannot go live without this being fixed. This bug has been open for over a MONTH, and we cannot get our engineers to tell us when they can get it fixed. I have been pushing them every day just to tell me when they can tell me when they can get it fixed. I’m not even asking them to tell me when it can be fixed! I just need an ETA on the ETA. The worst part is that the engineers are pretty certain they know what is causing the error. They just don’t know when they can fix it.

My manager says that because the engineers support so many different customers’ applications, they are extremely resistant to committing to any dates because another more urgent bug might come up.

So every day I writhe with embarrassment when I have to tell our customer that I have no update on their one single critical bug. I feel like they probably think I am totally useless.




Filed under Rant, Work

4 responses to “Just gimme an ETA!

  1. Oh boy, I know exactly what you’re talking about and it is MISERABLE. I was a PM for Sun for years and you just brought back a flood of memories. And some heartburn too so thanks for that. 😉

    Now I’m a corporate trainer and I adore it. Truly, I feel like I’m playing all day long.

    • Hahaha, you are welcome.

      Corporate training sounds like a blast. Maybe that will be my next career move too. =)

      I love my job right now (other than the frustrations of working with some other teams) because I work with two PMs who are both good friends. The working from home bit is nice too. Without those things I don’t think I would be here.

  2. Ugh, my job just bought new software (niche, and recently developed) and it just doesn’t do some very basic things that you would logically assume it should. Since I am the only person who can do anything other than create a word doc I end up calling in the tickets. It is very frustrating, especially because any idiot should have known that people would want the data they entered to carry over, so they could access it later, and things like that.

    We have had that ticket open for months.

    I always think the problem has to do with that software engineers tend to fall somewhere on the Asperger spectrum, therefore lacking the basic empathy, it would take to understand how non-Aspies would actually USE the software.

    • Hahaha, I myself used to be a developer and you are probably right about some of my ex-coworkers.

      About your ticket – I would be completely irritated as well. It sounds like whoever did the migration didn’t go about it very well.

      I do have to explain though, as developers we were far removed from the business and usually no one takes the time to train us on the business processes (it’s just not really a priority for management, since we should be focused on fixing the many bugs in the system).

      Some of us do take the initiative to learn more about the business and it definitely helps, especially when trying to come up with workarounds. But I have met developers who could care less and just want someone to tell them exactly what to do without thinking about how it affects the business. They seem like mindless automatons and are very frustrating to talk to.

      What I’ve described above is when the developers and the business people work for the same company.

      In my current company, since we support the systems of other companies, we have very little knowledge of their business processes (because it is confidential). Thus our support people have no prior interaction with the business. So it’s really difficult when you are debugging something when you don’t know WHY a customer did something that seems to make little sense. So they might suggest things that make sense technically but totally will not work for the business.

      While I understand all this intellectually, it doesn’t lessen the frustrations I feel when dealing with developers and engineers now that I am on the business side. I can only hope that I wasn’t considered one of the annoying developers.

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