After working with several, diverse customers around the globe, I do believe it is time to write about my personal experience with these after all these years. Hopefully this post will help both sides of the table: the consultants out there and the customers hiring such consultants. Keep in mind what I am about to say may sound obvious to many but reality is, it is far from that.
I will of course not mention names and companies but this has been seen several times and probably many will relate to this.
In this particular example, a customer got the vendor in to assist them win a non-persistent Windows 10 implementation, using the vendor stack and its toolset. Thing is this was for Office 365 and the whole pile of stuff that comes with it (OneDrive, etc) plus some medical apps. With that in mind let’s go through the list of issues I have seen in this case (and many others to be honest):
- Customer believes you are the vendor. Vendor sends me in and first thing I hear from the manager was something along the lines “we are paying Claudio all this money so…”. Let’s stop right there. When I go for surgery and pay a hospital $100,000 for a bypass surgery, I am not paying the IT guy at the hospital. I am paying the hospital the IT guy works for but not himself directly. So when you pay the vendor, you are not paying the contractor directly. Plus saying shit like that to the contractor that is there to help you, does not really help you. It is like going to a restaurant and telling the cook he is a fucking crook. Guess what? You will be eating ‘Spaghetti a La Spit’.
- Understand where the boundaries are. When you deploy a solution and then add Office 365, EPIC, etc on top of that foundation provided by the vendor (i.e. a Citrix PVS image with the bare OS), all these extras come from (guess what) ANOTHER vendor. And more than that these solutions may have their own pre-requisites to work properly and work the way you expect (i.e. single sign-on all the way). If you cannot even figure out what these are and how to make these work, understand this is not the contractor’s problem. He is there to get you a solid foundation. That is where the boundary is. Whatever you add on top, make sure you, as the customer, have the proper understanding and expertise to deploy it and make it work the way you want.
- It is a partnership. Customer and contractor are in for the exact same reason: to create and deploy a solution that will work for the internal consumers, the customer’s users. As such, this should be treated as a joint effort, with both sides cooperating and working together. If you have an issue with your car and you bring it to a mechanic and simply tells him I have an issue, it will take way longer to get the car back on the road than if you had simply said something like ‘I can start the car, drive it but the transmission seems stuck in 3rd gear’. Be very clear on what the issues are, the testing procedures that led you to find such issues and what the expected results are. Again, the vendor is not an expert on anyone else’s software or about your environment. You will get way more help for your money if you keep this in mind instead of wasting hours and hours by simply refusing to work together with your contractor.
- Expectations. Make sure you, the customer, have realistic expectations. If James Rankin got ten seconds logon on Windows 10, this does not mean you will be able to do it. First you are not James Rankin. Secondly, if you do not know your own shit well enough (how your apps work, what they do, and so on) how do you expect things to work? Fucking magic? Finally, different operating systems have different needs and requirements. For example, please do not tell me your Windows XP login was awesome and the VM worked great with 1vCPU and 512MB RAM but now Windows 10 refuses to work that well with the same specs. Compare apples to apples. Not apples to fucking watermelons.
Well that is it in a nutshell. Always keep in mind an engagement is a partnership and if you want it to last and be successful, treat it as valuable partnership. Otherwise people may not even want to work with you anymore.