Rational Thinking: Part One

In my last post you read a little about how I got my start in this industry. Now I would like to elaborate on my Rational Software-specific experience.

It all began about 13 years ago when I started my career with Rational Software in April 2000. I was a ClearCase Technical Support Engineer (TSE) working for Cathy Morelli. My primary responsibility was to answer phone calls and assist our customers. I always enjoyed answering these calls because you never knew what that next call was going to be and I enjoy working with people in general. In addition to taking calls I would assist my team mates with their calls, provided training to new hires, maintained an internal website and assisted in resolving escalations.

These early years with Rational hold my fondest memories. Back then, teams were competitive and the TSE’s took pride in how many calls they could close in a given day. It was friendly competition among co-workers and we all strived for excellence in customer satisfaction and accuracy of technical information. I cannot tell you how many all-nighters I spent working at the office making sure the customer with a P1 (site down) issue was back on their feet before morning. When a customer called Rational support they knew they were going to get a strong technical person on the phone.

Over the years since then, I have seen a huge shift in the caliber of support personnel and I feel a lot of this has to do with IBM taking over. Since IBM purchased Rational Software in February 2003, we have seen the response from support change. One such change was “callback” mode. I realize IBM felt they needed a way to control the flow of calls from customers but I think callback mode is not in tune with the type of support customers are used to.

Callback mode meant, as a paying customer, you could not get a support rep on the phone right away. All you could do is call to open a ticket and pray that a TSE would call or email you back in a short amount of time. This mode was also the standard even if you were calling to report a P1 ticket. Although internally to support, a P1 had a different SLA, to a company facing an outage, leaving a message and waiting for a callback was very frustrating.

Another change that seemed to occur in the post-Rational era was a more international-based support model sometimes referred to as “follow the sun.” This meant that when a TSE finally did call you back you did not know what country you were talking to and there were some countries that were better trained than others if you know what I mean. More and more I felt like the majority of calls to support would require an escalation to get accurate information and even then sometimes the information from the escalation rep was incorrect.

I know this because in October 2004 I left IBM to fill a long-lived dream of being a consultant. This put me on the customer side of IBM Rational Support where I often was one of those frustrated people.

In my 4.5 years at Rational/IBM, I learned many products such as; Core ClearCase, ClearQuest, Requisite Pro, Test Manager, Rose and how to integrate all of these applications with each other. My last 1.5 years under the IBM umbrella was spent on the Suites and Integrations team.

Having left IBM for new opportunities, I first accepted a position with BusinessEdge Solutions to work at State Street Global Advisors as a migration specialist. While upgrading teams to a new ClearCase version, we also added an integration to ClearQuest and enabled Unified Change Management (UCM). In this role I not only assisted with ClearQuest schema changes, but also lead the migration efforts assisting other consultants with the team they were responsible for migrating.

My next engagement was with Comsys to work back at State Street Global Advisors in a roll where I was supporting the environment I had previously just implemented. While working in this role I was responsible for creating and delivering frequent and reoccurring metrics reports for management and created and published a Standards guide for ClearCase usage.

Then I found IBM back in my life for a second time. Working for a company called Binary Tree, I went back to work for IBM as a consultant where I developed and automated the steps to perform an Active Directory migration of 4,000+ users world wide.

This brought me to 2006 when I would make the big decision to start something new. More on this next week in Part Two.

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