Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Destroying Domino in an organization without even trying

Business partners especially should read this post. I have had some discussions in the last days which lead me to question client's motivations.

Sometimes we are too smart for our own good or too ambitious.

This happens more than you think too IMHO.

Let's say a manager from a company which you have or have not worked with locates you as a local business partner out of the blue. They are a Lotus shop but are having some issues, server failures, mail problems, add your own ideas as well. Sure I live on referrals like everyone else, but sometimes my websites bring me clients and who am I to turn down projects?

Can we help them? Do an audit/health check and then present resolutions and manage those changes afterwards. Sure, done it many times.

Yes, you agree it sounds very good and off you go to write a proposal and get set for your week of inspection and meetings.

Now, and let's play devil's advocate here, what if this manager really does not like Domino? How would you know? He claims to want to help, knows the past histroy and wants people to be happy, claims his people are great. Sounds good, but, what if...he is really asking for the dirt to show the CIO and get Domino tossed?!

A serious issue now arises. Do you paint the report so it sounds okay but could be better or do you really dig deep and find 101 problems because it gives you a good project and provides revenue and 6 months of people on site, but may deep six the client as a Lotus shop?

Most people dig deep but (hopefully) sugar coat the report just in case so it looks like it could be helped but it's not in dire need.

But what if this is all wasted time? The manager runs to the CIO and pleads to save him from Domino and go to Exchange where he will live a quiet and peaceful life (for the next 10 months until he gets promoted and it is someone else's problem).

Cynical you say? Without proof it is hard to justify, but the proof may come too late and I don't want to see this happen, not to me, or my clients, or yours.

I am not sure the manager is lying, but I know some history and it is possible in this case I should be wary.

So, what would you do in this case? I know what I will do, but the feedback may bring me an idea or thought which could be helpful.


  1. I can tell you that this exact scenario is in play right now in my organization. After a few fairly minor e-mail problems the Senior VP has called for a full external audit of the Notes infrastructure. He makes no secret that he wants to get rid of Notes at the first opportunity. Do you think he is trying to fix the existing infrastructure, or justify the new one?

  2. Sadly I was afraid I would get at least 1 comment like this.
    If you wish to discuss ways to handle this offline, or the possible routes you can take, please let me know.
    email me at

  3. I'd have thought that a "full" audit of the domino systems would take the people systems into account.

    I believe that Auditors shouldn't just confine themselves to a tech audit - they need to ask questions too.

    Also: As part of the response - In a PDF so that it can't be edited, you should comment on the inherent security of Domino while taking into consideration whether or not best practices have been employed within the company itself.

  4. Gavin,
    I do include information ont he people, with a ratio and percentage to understand their server to admin or users to admin perspective.
    There is a software and hardware set of testing plus Q&A with the relevant people(admins, developers, management).

    Hadn't thought about doing it as a pdf and locking it down, I usually do this in Word and lock it.
    Thanks for the tip.

  5. Hi Keith,

    I work for a company that provides such Health Checks for a living (not so much for the shop around the corner, but for the larger multinationals). I believe the same game is being played there. Some internal forces want to improve what they have, others want to take the information to make their case to move away.

    In our scenarios IBM is often involved as well (hiring our services), allowing them to safeguard the Lotus interests. The result of our Health Check, is an opportunity to have a better performing environment at a lower cost -> A happy Notes customer. However, sometimes internal politics do take the upper hand..

    Based on IBM's announcements at events like Lotusphere, I can only assume that it happens vice versa as well, and shops that run on other environments choose to switch in favour of Notes. Let's hope it balances out, in the bigger picture of things ;-)

    Kind regards,
    Denis Wittebrood - Trust Factory

  6. Denis,
    Thanks for the thoughts. How I wish it was the other way around, and it is in rare occasions, and I am pursuing this theory with 2 clients albeit in a very slow process.
    No question doing the Health Audits is important, but wording it all and pointing to the highlights is a better decision than those that say "this is bad, this doesn't work" and yes, I have read docs like this.
    I try to balance the problems with saying configuration optimization, like a tune up in a car is all that is needed in the end.
    Of course anything can be used in a manipulative fashion so it is imperative to be careful out there.
    And for the record the client in question is a multinational and a linux/unix/windows multi server environment.

  7. Denis, Forgot to mention I met your team the last 2 years at Lotusphere and was extremely impressed with your audit/checkup program.
    Although it is VERY expensive even to my client, when I discussed pricing it I was told it would be $100,000.

    But if someone reading this is in a large organization they should definitely check out your solution.

    Otherwise, we are available at considerably cheaper levels :-)

    but you can email me to discuss this further at

  8. I contacted you via e-mail.
    For the record: The pricing for our service is fixed, based on a per user calculation. (So small shops - which are likely to be less complex - pay a small price)

    If at the time a price of a 100K was quoted, it must have been a big Notes shop, and I'm sure the benefits of a full scale Health Check would show a return on investment within a few months: Calculated and Proven afterwards!

  9. At the time, 2007, for 10,000 users that was what I was quoted in rough terms. Possibly pricing changed since back then.

    But as I said it is very impressive and definitely provides an excellent return and do hope more people use it, it is mind blowing the data you provide and the reporting tools included.

  10. That size of environment doesn't justify such a price tag.. - not by far! Maybe you mixed up our service, with the required software, maintenance fees, consulting services, etc of our competitor? ;-)

    Anyway, let's continue talk offline:

  11. Gavin,
    Taking people into account presumes that those people will be honest with the auditor. Sometimes it takes a few months of working with a client before you understand where their head is really at regarding their future technical directions. By that time the audit is done and dusted...