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Bring Your "A" Game, or Don't Come at all

Sunday, January 27, 2008 in Technical Articles (Views: 5271)
Over the last few days I have been working on a somewhat senseless project at work. We weren't prepared for it, yet it was being pushed from above to get it done, so here I am in the middle of doing it. Of course, the bosses sometimes don't listen to the warnings of those who work for them, and when we pull out a near miracle, it only makes them look good... As much as I would love to blog on this irony at the moment, let's save that for another time...

What I do want to blog about is integrity and credibility. This is the integrity and credibility you give a position, not the credibility it gives you...

What set me off last week is that we were beating our heads against the wall with a vendor of ours who is doing a software upgrade. The central theme of their support people is "I don't know", or "you can't do that", or if God forbid you get an answer from them, it's absolutely assenine and has nothing to do with the original question. Treating the customer as though they are dumber than you is pretty insulting, especially considering the low position they sit in.

I expect this sort of crap from companies who sell Indian, Phillipino, Chinese, or other slave labor overseas and insult those of us who are actually support people. I do not expect this from a company that is headquartered in the US and their developers are a spitting distance away.

To this company, I just have one thing to say - enjoy the paycheck we provided you, and thanks for nothing.

In over 20 years of IT, there are a lot of things I've learned and things that come to mind. So, here's the typical numbered list of how you should conduct yourself.

1. Bring your "A" game, or don't come at all.

This one kind of speaks for itself. But, if trouble comes, your customer shouldn't be providing all the answers. Be proactive, ready to take charge and ownership, and prove you're worth more than the paper we wrote your check with.

2. There are only 3 answers to a question

Those answers are either:

1. Here's the actual answer

2. I don't know, but I can find out

3. I'm sorry, I don't handle that - here is someone who does.

3. Keep your word and meet the needs of the customer

Remember who's money pays your salary. If we ask for something that is not unreasonable (or we paid for it), then provide it.

4. Being open to feedback doesn't mean ignore negative feedback

Amazing how many companies are open to feedback, until you provide negative feedback.

In the case of this particular vendor, they are integrating technology that hasn't been current in 10-15 years, portions of software that should have died at least 10 years ago (or significantly more).

Note: The customer isn't always right, but before arguing with them, you better be damned sure they're dead wrong.


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