The one that currently hovers over me concerns my present position as an Engineer within a specific sub-discipline (Radiation) basically going away. The powers that be are transferring ownership of the implementation and support of radiation technology to the vendor in every way possible, leaving only operational support to the Radiation Engineers (there are 3 of us for the country – something I once took some pride in). Operational support amounts to small tasks like vendor account research, unlocks, & updates to facilitate vendors doing all other work. This is effectively working myself out of a job (any who know me well might sense a professional theme for me).

I’ve put this article in the “incoherent discourse” bucket mainly because it’s unsubstantiated, except this one small factor: my current trip to Oregon is intended solely as a ‘vendor watchdog’ engagement. I developed the plan for these changes, put it in front of the vendor’s implementation engineer, he brought a lackey for his own use, and has owed the execution entirely, except where our mutual customer has taken on work.

I have done little other than provide a central point of contact for effort management, including phone calls to a 3rd party business to ask them to update their network and PACS configurations to comply with the new network architecture at our customer’s location. I know that sounds complicated, but you can think of it in terms of calling someone and asking them to pick some things up at the grocery store on their way home. It’s very, very similar.

Going into the project, I knew this was going to be the case. My current boss asked me to approach it this way back in January when he turned the entire project over to me. I didn’t think much of it at the time… our other radiation vendor already owns their initiatives 100%.

Oh, so I guess that’s the other part: at the same time I’m physically in Oregon crossing T’s and dotting I’s, there is a platform upgrade taking place in Minnesota. This is also my responsibility; the critical difference is the other radiation vendor is providing all the effort. I am strictly an on-call contact for the implementation engineer in the field, and he has done swimmingly thus far. The company has its act together, you could say. While we do of course run into our share of conundrums, their executions are by-and-large successful already.

Now this one in Oregon has also been a rousing success. I guess I did my job. My job was to hand my engineering work to someone else and make sure they do it right. I didn’t need to be in Minnesota to provide service on the scene. Now, it is similarly evident that I did not need to be bodily in Oregon to provide service either.

Am I rambling yet? There’s a point in here somewhere.

Indulge me as I return to the scene in Texas: the ‘theme’ of the day in the new building, the new IT department is “Perception”. Perception is key to how the department functions. This blows my mind a little; I would have thought “Service” would have been the key operator in how the department is structured. IT is unique in that it is 100% a customer service department. Everything we do is either service or support in response to a customer request. Our customers are pretty much everyone from the physicians practicing medicine in the far-off reaches of the United States, to the executives on the 8th floor steering the business strategy for everyone.

Anyway…Perception. The perception sought now is that IT looks just like accounting: starched and pressed, and packed into little sardine cans for workspace. It’s probably unfair to compare this to Calcutta in the sense that the population isn’t quite literally on top of one another, but the communicability of social toxins is comparable. It doesn’t matter that their ability to deliver service is negatively impacted by the noise levels discernible over the phones, or the generally poisonous attitude is infecting the culture. This is where I get to the complicated and petty procedures. Dress codes for people who never see and are never seen by customers unless they’re somehow walking through the department (which is limited to the cigar-smokers on the 8th floor passing through and congratulating themselves on their integration of culture conformism).

I’m starting to sound a little bitter, and that’s not my intent. So this is a moment to lean back and re-cap two points:

  1. My position as a subject matter expert in radiation treatment delivery technology is being replaced by total vendor ownership.
  2. The culture at the mother-ship is changing, or more appropriately is changed: it is depressed and depressing, and intended to hold up a perceptive ideal instead of a functional one.

The next, and probably last element is the role-change on the table – I have, since the day I went to work for corporate, been straddling the fence between SME and facilities implementations IT project manager. In fact in the first week I was made the unofficial project manager for two major facilities projects in Arizona. They were radiation facilities, so the argument for my participation (or participation by one of the three of us) makes perfect sense. In the same swing, the original ITPM was excused from the project to fulfill other pressing obligations and left to provide me with phase gatekeeping (an administrative function) only.

Now, after delivering the two big projects on time, and a half-dozen smaller non-radiation projects, I am unofficially officially (figure that out) a Project Manager by role (not title).

The SME’s are either transferring to operational support, or IT-PMO, based on upper management’s “perception” of skillset. This includes Radiation treatment technology and my favorite tangential discipline: Diagnostic Imaging and related processes.

Throw in a little seasoning – it’s review time for everyone (calendar year enforced, rather than anniversary dates).

This is the obvious and ideal time to change my title officially, and at the same time change my job description. Rather it’s an opportunity to tell me my job as an SME is being phased out. I can, if I so choose, apply for an ITPM job within the PMO and reasonably expect to win it, but the concession will be that the job is in Houston, and not in the field. The bulk of the projects I can anticipate governance over will source from Real Estate / Construction, or Cancer Center Services, or both (they often overlap), and I can spend my days driving a cube.