If you can’t stand up, sit down! And cleaning up data migration messes.

For those who work and office (or live) with someone else, have you ever walked in the restroom and found that someone has left a mess on the floor? I’m not talking about the trash turned over, although that is ridiculous unless you have a pet that likes to turn over garbage. I’m talking unidentified fluids on the floor. Someone missed the giant hole that is the toilet. Now, granted, most of the time a male is the culprit. As males, every single one of us has had times where we point in one direction and it goes another. This is just a fact of life. The key is how you handle the mess.

This is another of those workplace metaphors. There are times that you make mistakes. There are times you create a mess. That’s going to happen. Maybe it’s not even “your fault.” In my 20 years in the IT industry, I have made my share of messes. The key character trait is how you respond to those messes: do you clean it up yourself or do you leave it for someone else?

Recently we received data from another EMR vendor from which one of our clients was moving. We had already migrated several different types of data, but when we got to the document migration, the data was a mess. Multipage documents were broken apart into single page documents and the document compression (these were TIFF’s) was not correct for the system to which we were migrating.

We typically require sample files before we quote a project, but the vendor providing the data made getting samples cost prohibitive for the client, so we went without a sample this time. This was a mess we needed to clean up without additional cost to the client. We ended up spending hundreds of hours of processing time to combine the single page documents into the appropriate multipage documents and re-compressing the documents into the proper format. It took much longer to process than the time we budgeted, but it was the right thing to do.

I know that no one person can have all of the skill sets to clean up all messes for all time. That is the reason we work with other people. We have a support network to help us with things that we don’t know how to do or can’t handle by ourselves.

The people I want to work with are people that recognize when they have made a mess. They clean up messes they can handle and call people when they need help. They don’t just leave the mess for someone else to find and clean up for them.

When you are working in the service industry (any industry really), you must be willing to admit to your mistakes and come up with a plan to correct them. The key to this process is, once again, COMMUNICATION. Communicate the issue and demonstrate that you understand the issue. Communicate that you own the issue, communicate the plan, communicate the status, communicate completion and communicate how you will prevent the issue from happening again. Customers will appreciate your admission of humanity and humility. They will appreciate your willingness to take charge of the situation and make things right. Above all, they will appreciate that they know what is happening because you have kept them informed with your proper communication.