Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For Intelligent Mail, Occasional Failure Is An Option

The head of the Postal Service’s Intelligent Mail program apparently took umbrage yesterday at criticisms of the program’s system outages, but methinks he protesteth too much.

The criticism was posted yesterday on Intelisent’s Postal Affairs Blog, which has been reporting on the various outages of Intelligent Mail systems: “In case yesterday’s unscheduled FAST outage wasn’t a good enough example of instability with the required Full Service Intelligent Mail systems, the USPS comes through again today with another example. FAST is up and running, however the issue of the day is now PostalOne!. In order to qualify for Full Service, electronic documentation is required. Not being able to use the system forces mailers to Plan B.”

Someone identified as “Thomas Day, Senior VP – IMAQ” responded on Postalnews.com (which cited the Intelisent article): “The ‘so-called’ unscheduled outage on Sunday July 25, 2010 was in fact a scheduled outage (see DMM Advisory below). The PostalOne! outage on Monday July 26, 2010 was from 3:07 PM to 3:18 PM Eastern Time - ELEVEN MINUTES. Hardly the type of information that calls for the ‘information’ provided above. We will continue to strive to keep both FAST and PostalOne! performing on a consistent basis.”

Here’s the July 21 DMM advisory he cited: “PostalOne! Server Patching (July 25, 2010): The PostalOne! ® production and Testing Environment for Mailers (TEM) application servers will have security patches applied during the scheduled maintenance window of 4:00 a.m. through 8:00 a.m. (CDT) on Sunday, July 25, 2010. The PostalOne! system (including FAST® OPS web services) will be unavailable for internal and external users during this period.”

A bit later, the same person added: “To be very clear, the FAST outage was scheduled on Sunday and extended due to connectivity problems. Customers were updated with information about the extended outage until the system was restored later on Sunday. The PostalOne! outage was unscheduled and lasted Eleven Minutes.”

“Intelisent” responded on Postalnews as well: “With all due respect, the FAST outage was scheduled for 4 hours; however the application was down for 18 plus hours.”

Other commenters were less respectful. “One minute, 11, 111 or 111,111; it doesn't matter how many minutes, it HAPPENED!!!” wrote “OnceAmazedNowAmused”. “And the USPS wants (demands) mailers to use this system? Get a grip! Stop low-balling the IT budgets and giving bonuses to the VP's and design a system that is at least stable enough to put into a production environment. USPS has gone 'kicking and screaming' into the information age and yet demands that mailers use this and many other similarly ridiculously flawed programs. Just one more nail in the coffin...”

And, early today, “please stand by” wrote, “I came in to work today to process some intelligent mail...but instead was told to clock on to 340 and to sit in a room for 3 hours and do nothing....is anybody out there?”

Other articles in recent months demonstrating that Intelligent Mail is not so intelligent include:


dryMAILman said...

From the Senior USPS Bureaucrat Customer Relations Handbook...

On Customer Complaints:

1. Deny there is a problem.
2. Deny there is a problem.
3. Deny there is a problem.
3. Ignore OIG reports of the problem.
3. Deny there is a problem.
4. Ignore OIG's suggested remedial actions.
5. Hire Bernstock.

(Senior USPS bureaucrats can't count.)

Anonymous said...

Hire some more 23 yr old MBA 'management consultants', that will fix EVERYTHING.