Gerald is a long-time owner of a substantial construction business, and like most successful business owners, he trusts his own wits and intuition in making business decisions.  His keen mind is ultimately what got him to success, so why not keep betting on a winner?  But Gerald also knows his limitations.

Last year his intuition was acting up a bit, and he was nagged by a persistent fear of losing valuable data.  He finally decided to reach out to me to see if Promethius could audit his backup and disaster-recovery plan.  Were there chinks in the armor?  We would find out.

My first step was to interview Gerald regarding details of his network and how it was configured, which I conducted over a friendly lunch.  I could tell pretty quickly that he had a good grasp of the general layout of his network and the equipment he had.  After learning what I could about his backup routine, our conversation naturally drifted to other aspects of his network.

“Are there any other computer issues you guys are having?  Any nagging pains?” I asked. “No,” he assured me.  “Our network generally runs like a top.  It’s just that darn backup that worries me.  If we lost data we would be in a world of hurt.”

So we dove into an audit of Gerald’s backup and recovery position.  During the process, I had a chance to meet with several of his staff, and that’s when things got interesting.  I met with each staff member to get a handle on their adherence to policies and procedures regarding where company files are saved.  If files weren’t saved in the correct location, then they likely weren’t backed up properly.

It turns out the staff were very good about saving files in the right place.  No issues there.  But I did find out from the staff that Gerald had a serious problem on his hands, and it had nothing to do with his backup. 

By my third meeting with a staff member, I had heard some variation of the following question THREE TIMES: “Is Gerald finally going to get our computers fixed?”  Yikes.

In a week or so I submitted my report on the state of Gerald’s backup, which was generally pretty solid but needed some minor tweaks.  He was visibly relieved. 

Then I broke the news.

“I hate to tell you, but I think you’ve got another problem on your hands.”  I relayed the stories of slow, frustrating staff computers, but Gerald wasn’t convinced.

“I just haven’t heard many grumblings from staff, and it seems like everyone is getting their work done,” he said.  After a brief discussion, I convinced Gerald to let me do an anonymous survey of his staff (I used Wufoo forms to do this, by the way).  The results shocked him.

72% of staff members felt that their computers were hindering their job performance.  Each staff member was restarting their computer an average of four times per day due to errors or general slowness! 

Sometimes the truth hurts.  Sometimes the truth is hidden from business owners and decision makers.  Gerald was thankful for my persistence, and we set about devising a plan to upgrade his equipment over time.

So what’s the lesson of this story?  It’s not a bad idea to survey your staff, in a way that they can be anonymous, from time-to-time. Wufoo is my favorite survey tool, and SurveyMonkey is another good one.

You may be surprised by what you find!