Monday, December 20, 2004

 

I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it

A bit crunched for time today and tomorrow, as Genus Salesman Loudmouthus shot his big yap off to the client that we would have some docs for them by COB Tuesday. This lower form of life is constantly managing the account relationship, which is a seriously bad indicator if you ask me. There's another project going on at Esteemed Client staffed by Respected Employer which has been seriously farked, and Respected Employer's team on said project isn't respected at all by Esteemed Client. However, my project is merely a low-budget proof of concept, just playing with some cool new toys just to see if they work. By low-budget I mean two, count 'em, two, Respected Employer types including myself, for about five or six weeks total. If this thing goes over $100K I'd be amazed, and frankly, it'll probably come in around $70K. The other project is in the high seven, possibly low eight figures range. The problem of course is that with new toys (and unfortunately, a new Buzzword is involved, so people have their eyes on it) sometimes there are major changes associated with those toys, and a traditional analytical approach to documenting how one might actually use them to make some money might take a bit more time. I'd figured on having the docs done by Friday morning, a good quality job. But since the loudmouth opened his trap and wouldn't let me contradict him, I'm now committed to crunching something out that may or may not be ready, and it doesn't get me enough time to seek feedback from domain experts (I happen to know the technology and processes well in this technical discipline, but it's a different business domain from the one I'm used to, so I'd like to have another pair of eyes take a look at the thing before I bless it for client consumption).

A Modest Proposal - Make Salesmen Responsible. Don't blame the consultants necessarily when projects get into trouble. My experience is that in most cases salesmen promise entirely too much and change the meaning of proposals in ways that impact projects to their detriment. The salesman only wants to see the sale or the qual racked up on his chit, and doesn't know whether it is indeed possible to do the miracles they promise. Most technology sales people I know are completely oblivious to whether their products actually work in a given situation. The exceptions are probably with highly specialized companies like Cisco, but then again in their case the usage and problem domains are well understood, and a good salesman merely needs to keep logistics (especially WRT spares) smooth and to keep his ear open for when the next technology refresh cycle will happen. In the case where a company is selling an underlying technology that needs vast amounts of value-added work (customization, process, etc) the salesmen usually chant the mantra that the product will Do More With Less and cure halitosis, while obliviously telling the PMs and grunts to make the thing work even if the client's process and procedures are completely incompatible with what you're trying to do or the best estimate you can come up with from your methodology figures that you should complete it sometime around the time your great-grandchildren will be retiring.

If I get another salesman doing this, I'll thrash him.

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