Chapter 44 – Stored Procedures

I thought we would get back to discussing and exploring where our data failures happened after Mr. M left. My general impression is that most IT people believe the programming code they generate is owned by them and not the company paying them. That of course is not true. Programmers get paid just like most of the rest of us for services and get paid a fee. That fee could be compensation and that fee could be something else.

The damage we suffered was because we could not find the programming code and for our purposes we are going to call that code “Stored Procedures.” As you can imagine Stored Procedures is a body of programming code designed to be used repeatedly. In our case we talked to about 20,000 people a day on behalf of 6 different clients. Each of those client needed reports sent daily and each client’s reports were a bit unique. On average we would gather at least 10 bits of information a day per person talked to and 5 bits of information a day on 100,000 records of people we did not talk to. All told lets call that 700,000 bits of information that needed to be pulled from our database, arranged by client, reported by client, in some cases data files created, and all of that needed to be done in about 4 hours after we closed.

All of the data was in a central location on a server or two and a database or two that we maintained. I think you can agree there is no copying and pasting 700,000 pieces of information nightly. So you write a program to go get the information and post it into a report. That programming includes code that is very very specific and tells the software program to go get the customer’s name, address, phone, number, time called, detail of the conversation (script) and resolution…as an example. So you write that code, you test and makes sure it goes and gets that information and then saves it. And we do that for each of or clients because each one needs something different. The programming code that does that is called a stored procedure. You store for use every day. It works and you will use it frequently.

Then you do the same thing for each report you need. Each report is a bit different so you have a procedure for each one and you store those. Then of course you need to pull data out and put the data in a file that you send to clients and that’s a separate group of stored procedures. It’s a lot of work to do the programming. More than you could do in a night typically. But we aren’t done. You also need a stored procedure to go execute on all of this, choosing the date and client you want, etc. You could write the code for that daily but what if you goof up. The best advice is to write the code, test it and make sure it works and then use it daily. You only change it if you need to change the data that gets pulled, the reporting or something else changes.

Now all of that is a simple description of stored procedures, but it makes senses doesn’t it. You don’t recreate the wheel everyday. At least not as an IT person. That’s not your job.

So what happened to the stored procedures. Where did Mr. M put them? Why didn’t our other IT folks have them? Why didn’t they know how to use them to create reports, to import & export data, etc. We found what appeared to be such files on the 120 gig hard drive and our forensic reports bear that out. But that hard drive had been reformatted and when that happens programs get jumbled…and can’t be counted on.

When Mr. M returned the computer he was working on with the 60 gig hard drive, all the programs needed to process all of our daily data should have been on there, but they weren’t. Now Mr. M had been doing this for years and doing it pretty darn well. Our other two guys had college degrees and one had been with us almost two years as I recall. But the programs were not there. The stored procedures were not there. And our IT staff could not find them. In fact the consultant we hired could not find them. He re-wrote them in a few days. Not in a few hours, but a few days. Had it been just a few hours that may have barely supported the notion that stored procedures were not necessary, but when it takes a few days of course stored procedures are necessary. He also wrote a manual for our use in a just about 3 hours.

We were shut down for a week. The shut down cost us $100,000 in lost revenue. In spite of 5 people testifying to the fact that we were down and it was as a result of the absence of the stored procedures, the arbitrator awarded us nothing. Mr. M claimed there were no stored procedures. Mr. Crow believed that. Do you?

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