Friday, July 15, 2011

Fud Buster Friday #59: Theory is Cheap


Reality is Expensive.

Anyone can provide theories, opinions or blog posts but are they worth anything?
What happens when the theory goes horribly wrong?

Ever get into a discussion about a project with a client only to find out that someone told them it should be easier, simpler, faster or cheaper than you just stated?

What do you do? How do you defend yourself? Should you even bother to defend yourself?

Usually this is a sign that you have not done your part properly and gathered enough information from the client. No, you may never get to find out what the other bids are, but you are not looking for those details. What you are looking for is the value or time, the customer feels the project will take/cost and how that could be worked on your end to a better deal for everyone.

If you know, for example, that creating a new ID takes 1-2 minutes depending on the server speed and network, you can safely say it takes less than 5 minutes. If another vendor came in and said it takes 15 minutes an ID, what do you, as the client or the vendor, think or do? The client usually has no idea or bases their knowledge on what the norm has been in their company. In some companies they really believe it takes a day. Bet you wish you had that client don't you? Or I bet you hate to hear that from your own employees mouth?

Maybe the client says, why do you need 15 minutes when it takes a minute or two? Sometimes clients do know what they are talking about. But, that other vendor has a job to explain the reality from the theory.

Let's see, they may say:
1) Log in to the client/server to create an ID
2) Get to the ID screen
3) Start entering all the pertinent information
4) Verify what you typed is correct
5) Add any security/access required or denied for the user
6) Save/OK the entry
7) Wait for it to say complete or
8) Push the change out manually so you can test the ID
9) Test the ID
10) Copy the ID, if a file is created, to a secure/safe secondary home
11) Email/IM/Tweet the user that they can now login

12) Document the user was created and the password assigned, especially if there is no log file for this or a way to fix it later.

Now when the client looks at this, they see a produced document which can also double for guidelines, training, certifications, documentation. They also now believe, because they were shown this list, this is a bit of psychology in how people think, that it takes 12 minutes to make an ID file. In some cases even longer, more because there are even more steps to some systems or processes. You get the picture.

But, what you want top do instead is this:
Ask the client, how long THEY think it takes their staff to create an ID.
Or what is the current time allocated for ID creation or what they think it takes if something is new to them.

Somewhere between your thinking and their reality is what you are looking for, in both time and money. Don't leave money on the table, but don't lie to your client either. If you use their time and their words, you can not go far off course. But taking advantage of someone who does not know the difference may come back to haunt you next time you try to do business with them. Don't be short sighted.

Theory works very well until someone needs to get work done. Then what should take a minute takes 15 or 15 hours. Sometimes, that is how it happens. Other times it really does take a minute. Be open and upfront with your clients and vendors, and they will be with you too.

Knowing in advance what to expect, for better or for worse, will help you more in your negotiations than anything else you can do.