Apparently there are only two people in the whole hospital I work in who know how to add a department in our budget software. I know this because I need two new departments added and both of the people who can do this are on vacation. I wouldn’t know this if the department was added yesterday when we asked, but alas, it wasn’t and now it can’t be for another 10 days.
In this office, there are system people and there are analysis people. So basically, we analysis people figure out we need to do our jobs and the systems people are supposed to do the back-end work to make that happen. I say “supposed to” because mostly what they do is either complain about how it’s not possible and then fight with my boss about it. In their defense, the software that we’re using is not very intuitive/user-friendly. I don’t know if that’s because we’ve broken it or if that’s how it is, but I know that no one here is really confident on how to use it. One guy was, but he moved to San Francisco. No one has bothered to really understand the version that we’re using.
The thing that bothers me more about this situation is not my missing departments for the next week or so. It’s the fact that there’s no knowledge transfer here. If someone gets hit by an ice cream truck, we’re screwed. Having two people who know how to do something isn’t enough. I have a friend who works in the IT department of another hospital. Her department has a network folder called, “If One of Us Wins the Lottery” where all documentation is kept. If someone is out, anyone else can pick up their slack. How comforting is that? Two people can go on vacation at the same time and the place won’t come to a stand still! Unbelievable.
Several years ago, there was a big debate as to whether Steve Jobs should have disclosed is cancer to the BOD in its earlier stages. I said no because he would be stupid if he didn’t have his successor’s name in an envelope somewhere and wasn’t already filling him/her in, giving them the tools they need to take over. I say he would be stupid not to have a succession plan, but I know its rare. We all know that LBJ was absolutely clueless when Kennedy was assassinated and he had to fill the hot seat. Imagine what would have happened if Cheney had to take over for W? *cringe*
It’s not just happening in the Executive Office. It’s happening in every office. How hard is it to write down directions on how to do the tasks you are most often called to do? It doesn’t make you expendable. It just makes everyone’s life easier if you win the lottery, get hit by an ice cream truck or, god forbid, take vacation at the same time as your boss. In the meantime, look both ways. Your department needs you.