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Wiggle Room Expand / Collapse
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Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007 4:36 PM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Wiggle Room






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Post #419826
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007 6:11 PM
SSC Eights!

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The companies with which I work see my resume so know my skill-set. If it's an area where I'm a little weak, I let them know. Research is generally split 50/50 depending upon the kind of research that I'm doing.

To tie in to your earlier editorial, there are so many areas and so many things to learn that it can be hard to find someone who is an expert in everything. Oft times companies hire me for my expertise and then ask me to look into other areas as well. I love that because it means I get to learn new things and they get things done.
Post #419850
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 11:40 PM


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If only we could rely on their honesty. A BIG international company (that we thought we could trust) tried to do some work for us and within a short period we realised they did not know what they were doing. We fired them, but still ended up paying a large amount for their time spent. We wrote it off as school fees. Even resumes do not help. (We did check those). Now we have to set up contracts to protect ourselves, which in itself is wasting a lot of time. Our project was postponed for 3 months. Maybe somebody out there can learn from this and take precautions.

5ilverFox
Namakwa Sands
South Africa
Post #420379
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 1:09 AM


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I don't think IT is really any different to any other industry here, despite the pace of change. If you buy in skills, the company providing those skills should provide a service that is "of merchantable quality".

However, that doesn't mean they should necessarily be walking encyclopaedias in their given subject. It means they should be capable of doing the job you're asking, and if that means a bit of research, so be it. I wouldn't care if a builder, uncertain about building regulations in an unusual circumstance, did a bit of research to find out what was necessary - I'd be far less happy if they didn't!

What I do believe to be fundamental to the requirements of a consultant, though, is that they can and do ask, correctly interpret, then deliver the solution for the question, "what are you trying to achieve?". That, to me, is the value-add that you pay for. So many consultants only listen to what the customer says they want (and only half listen at that), and try delivering that without questioning, verifying, sanity-checking or burrowing down to real requirements. The technical skills are, to my mind, irrelevant if that first important step hasn't been done properly. Following my earlier analogy, "I know the customer said they want their house built on sand, but it doesn't matter how good a bricklayer you are, it won't work well for long."


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Post #420396
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 2:03 AM
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As a "consultant" I usually only accept assignments within my area of expertise. Most of the time I will say to my potential clients that what they require is not in my skillset and that I can refer them to somebody else who may have the skills they require. Even after that, as an expert you cannot know everything - so there will be times that you will need to do research. But your researching ability (and problem solving skills) is what your clients are paying you for also.
My advice is to always keep your clients updated on hours spent and what you are doing. Also ask for their approval to proceed with an estimate of hours that it will take. If you are out of your depth - tell them and offer an alternative solution.
You need to know what you can deliver and then deliver, whilst communicating your progress and hours to the client regularly. Clients don't like surprises.
But what about the other side - when you do the work, get the desired solution, within budget and then the client wants to "negotiate your fees", there are two sides to every story.



Post #420402
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 2:30 AM
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6 years ago a SQL consultant was brought in to my old company (1 year before I got there). Apparently his CV was good and appeared to have all the skills necessary for replication setup required.............






.............he arrived on his first day with a SQL for Dummies book under his arm.

I spent the next year dealing with his cock-ups



Post #420413
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 2:52 AM
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I think majorbloodnock has things about right. The client definitely has the right to expect work of merchantable quality. They should not expect world-leading skills unless they have explicitly included this in the contract and agreed to by the supplier. A consultant should show competance in understanding the client's problem, and in researching and delivering a solution.

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Post #420418
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 4:00 AM
Mr or Mrs. 500

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It's the same in any situation - if we get someone in we should take steps to ensure he is competant to do the job. For many trades there are official certifications and registrations eg CORGI registration for gas fitters. Sadly many of these are just buy-ins to trade federations with no test of competancy.

Microsoft certifications (and CORGI registrations) are expensive pieces of paper that show someone can pass an exam - at least that's better than just paying to join a club.

The other problem is that these registrations are expensive and the holder has to charge higher fees to cover his costs. This leads to undercutting by uncertified moneymakers or foreign short term migrant workers who don't have to pay tax and local living costs. The result is good qualified people going under financially as they cannot cut their charges to match, having fixed overheads.

This has recently happenned to a plumber friend who has to pay taxes, rates and rent and keep a family unlike the migrants taking his work who come in for a few weeks, hot bunking and taking a very low payment for the job (minimum wage doesn't apply to self employed people). This succeeds simply because people are more interested in price than quality but the decreasing quality will gradually bring the whole industry down to the lowest level if properly skilled people cannot make a living.
Post #420442
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 5:58 AM
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My opinion is if either side is misleading there are ethical issues. If a consultant makes it clear that they are weak in an area but will give a price break for them, or will offer training to others in a different area for no charge I have no issue.

I don't have an issue with anyone calling themselves a consultant even if they have never had a job. If someone hires this type of person as an expert without checking their references it's their own issue.

Now if someone green right out of school can get more for a job than me with 20+ years experience then I need to find out what they are doing that I'm not :D
Post #420468
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 6:40 AM
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In many cases the exact skill set that your project requires may not exactly match available people. That is not necessarily a problem within reason.

A good consultant knows his strengths but also knows how to catch up to speed quickly in parts of the job that lie outside of previous experience. A good consultant is enough of a generalist to know how to pick stuff up on the fly, and has a network of contacts that he can turn to for input.

For some consultant horror stories, browse www.worsethanfailure.com



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