So, a few weeks ago now, the House’s IT department was audited to make sure that it’s up to scratch. But before the auditor stepped a foot in the building, for week and weeks before, we had been preparing and panicking. And in the end, it wasn’t that big a deal. So why had we been panicking so?
To understand that, we have to go back to last year, when the House has it’s last IT audit. When the House was audited last year, Mr Chief took it rather lightly, and did close to the bare minimum to fix up everything ready for the audit. He and Professor got everything working, but not necessarily clean. They didn’t apply best practice, just what was practical. This meant that the switch cabinets weren’t all neatly run, didn’t use colour-coded Ethernet cables, and didn’t have UPSes (uninterruptible power sources). And, as is always the way, the auditor who came out was exactly the opposite. He was the most picky, precise and, as Mr Chief liked to call him, anal retentive guy they could have gotten. So he went to town on them. He complained about everything, flagging everything possible as an issue. He even kicked up a stink that some of the computers on the system were a few weeks behind with their updates. They all had the main ones, but that wasn’t good enough for him. In the end, the House scored ~70-80%. Needless to say, this sent Mr Chief into a spin, panicking to do better this year.
At this point, you may be wondering, “Why is the House getting audited anyway? Is it a government thing or by a union, or what?” I had the same wonders for a long time, until Mr Chief explained to me that it was organised by the House’s parent company. They’ve been planning, for a number of years now, to roll out a new “software solution” for all their daughter companies, to unify them using one common system. However, this has been quashed by various delays with the software now looking like it won’t be around for a few years at least. Despite that, they insist on sending out an auditor every year to make sure that the systems we are maintaining are up to scratch, ready to run the software whenever it appears. The worst part is, they spend all this money auditing us, but they’re not willing to give us any to fix up the “problems” that are found.
So, this year, for about a month leading up to the audit we were running around like headless chooks trying to work out what needed to be fixed for this audit, and fixing it. At first, we started slow and casually, but we ended up working on it until the night before. The biggest thing we did was reconfiguring all the switch cabinets all around the House. Every single one had a UPS installed, the cables all changed so they were colour-coded consistently across the House, and the firmware updated. Each of these tasks meant taking down parts of the network, some of them very large, other only tiny. Consequently, much of this had to be done after hours, or when whole sections of people were away for one reason or another. This only made the whole process more frantic. We did some serious over time, even staying til around 10 PM one night.
So, what came of it all? Well, the auditor came out and he was NOT the same guy as last year. No, indeed. He wasn’t the same at all. He even let us know that the guy from last year had been let go because he got up everyone’s nose too much. Wouldn’t you know it? Instead, this guy was the most easy, laid back person you could ever have encountered in such a situation. He didn’t even care that we didn’t have the paperwork he needed ready, profiling all the different types of device on our system, and were just printing it out as he walked out the door. In fact, he was more than happy with that. He was flabbergasted when he saw all the effort we had gone to, and commented that it was overkill. He didn’t care that we had set up a updates server to keep all the computers up to date all the time, or that he had missed one of the cabinets when it was time to leave. He just asked “Is it like all the others? Does it connect to anything important?” We told him “No, it’s the same. It’s a edge node.” which is true. He said “Cool,” and left.
We scored in the high 90s out of 100 this year. The only things we lost marks on were things that Mr Chief believes the auditor misunderstood, so it’s basically a perfect score. The only problem now is what if next year we get someone fussy again?
So, what did you think of that? Was that entertaining? Have you learnt any useful lessons from our experiences? As always, if you have something to say, like a suggested blog topic, feel free to tell me in the comments below, or on the Facebook fan page.
To Infinity and Beyond,