A Week in the life of an SA consultant..

I arrived at DigitalCement and met this charming Tech Manager who went over the infrastructure setup for the install. There were a total of nine high-powered Windows 64-bit servers, with the web, app, reporting and microsites serves all on their own VLANs, Only the app server was behind the firewall. I had gone over the setup a bit the week earlier so I wasn’t too overwhelmed or anything. He set me up with another charming young man with bright eyes who got me access to the servers. I was on my way to finish a record at least 9 server setup in a week. The work rolled by – this is what happens when you know what you need to do. By the end of day I was a bit behind schedule as I was needed on all meetings. When you are the first consultant to be on-site, the clients thinks you know everything even though my role was made clear earlier. My job was to setup Aprimo and do the system level configuration so that the Implementation consultants can do their job of helping the client start using Aprimo. I broke out for a quick lunch at the nearby Quiznos.

I was in a 2 hour meeting trying to answer every question, making sure I will get back on those that I didn’t know answers for and feeling a bit frustrated with things I shouldn’t be answering such as implementation specifics for e.g., things to keep in mind when designing segmentations or best practices for designing Microsites. I finally got back to my work. It was about 7:30 PM before I sent my status update for the day to the team and left the building. I thought some fresh air will do a tired soul good and decided to walk. Once back in the room, it was too much of an effort to step out and get dinner, so I ordered room service – the pizza was okay. I left half of it and stuffed it back in the refrigerator knowing pretty well I wouldn’t be eating it again – there was no microwave in the room anyway.

Tuesday and Wednesday were rougher with long days and questions still unanswered about how to support multiple microsites. I got the conversation started with Product with replies back about possible but untried solutions. It can be very frustrating when you face the client and they have a business problem and I have to say we need to try this out. But I wasn’t going back to the client yet about the solution. Let it run through some more thinking. By end of Tuesday, I started to catch up with the schedule I had promised – lost time was mainly due to some delays from the client side to get me access Monday morning and time lost in discussions which I didn’t have to be part of. Also one of the servers got bad and we had to request a rebuild of it. After work, I was now used to walking to the hotel.

Toronto downtown is more beautiful than New York city. Its buildings have architecture both of old and new. The newer building experiment with the facade and interior more. The mall on Bay street close to work is probably the best mall interior I have seen anywhere with 100s of arches 4 storied high on the inside making for some spectacular space. The food court there was also great and I got some Indian food for dinner two days in the week. As I used to approach the hotel, I could see the CN tower slowly undulating between dark and lighted exterior making for some spectacular sight. I got some photos of it but knowing it was dark, my expectations weren’t high.

By end of Wednesday, I was back on schedule and ready to test the setup. I ran into a few issues and not enough support, but pinged my group and got some involvement. Finally I managed to resolve the issues was felt great Thursday evening. When you have a problem on hand, the single most KEY thing to know is that you must believe that you can solve the problem. Once you have that belief, things start to work out. I have experienced this again and again over the past four week. With such belief, you avoid to trip on the Frustration Rd. Make it a habit to develop such belief. After nearly three restless sleep-less nights, I had a good sleep.

On Friday, the domain wasn’t hooked up with the load balancer as scheduled. I finished setting up a simple microsite and testing it. Again, when I ran into an issue where the microsite wasn’t getting published, I took a step back and assured myself that I can solve it. This cleared up my mind and I started seeing possible solutions. Imagine when you think you solved a problem or two and think it is going to be easy downhill from here on – there most likely will be other problems presenting themselves. Hence don’t rest on what you accomplished, but use the learning you gained. The learning in my case was not the technical solutions, but developing the sense of belief of a definite solution. At 4:30 I packed up my things and took a taxi back to Toronto International airport. There was hardly any crowd at the airport – Thursday evenings should be the busier evening. My flight was at 8 PM but with immigration and security at foreign airports, it is always a good idea to get in more than 2 hours earlier. I went to my gate and found the 6 PM flight to Philly was almost done boarding. I check with the agent at the gate and she put me on the flight. With a Chai latte in my hand, a laptop bag I squeezed myself into the small 64-seater plane. There was barely any space to even put down my chai so I could take my coat off. I somehow managed that and we started taxi-ing only to stop for about 20 minutes due to weather delays at Philly. Rama had said there would be 4 inches of snow Friday night – that would be a record as it was still October!!. Anyway, I was happy to get back home for dinner. What I had learned on this trip was worth way more than what I had accomplished.

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