This was on the Comments section in answer to our article Ten reasons why clients are complete idiots.
Having read the 10 points detailing stupidity among clients, I wish to make the following contribution.
Taking each point in turn:-
Clients aren’t complete idiots. With regard to taking on IT contractors direct (point 1), many companies prefer to use the services of an agency for two reasons.
It cuts out a lot of the administration work that would be necessary if the client were to advertise the positions, collect in and administer hundreds of CVs, draw up contracts and then administer individual payments.
The agents already have a well-oiled machine that deals with this and most clients see this as a cost-effective way of hiring contractors.
Secondly, resources on most projects are charged out to end-user or stakeholders that are putting up the money. The initial quotation would have included a price per developer way higher than the price actually being paid to the agency.
If a contractor went direct, then they would be charged out at a lesser rate, and the overall mark-up would be less as well.
Taking Contractors’ Advice
Point 2 about not taking contractors advice when things go wrong. All sites have various procedures in place for dealing with problems, such as an issue log, risk log and a Change Management system.
If a contractor sees a problem with a system, then they should use the official channels for dealing with it, not merely offer advice in the hope that a change will be made to the system that has not been assessed for impact. Clients are not complete idiots. They would value IT Contractors advice.
The third point deals with motivation and suggests that a client feels that it is only money that motivates a contractor. If money isn’t the motivation then perhaps a person should not have become a contractor in the first place.
One is hired to provide a service, and the motivation should be that the client recognises at the end of the project that the contractor has given good value for money. Anything else that one may get out of a contract should be seen as a bonus.
Following Strict Methodologies
Taking points 4 and 5 together as they contradict each other. The writer bemoans clients that follow a methodology too strictly never opting to cut corners, then complains when a client cuts corners in testing. Both these things come down to an assessment of risk against cost.
Often projects work to a deadline which if not met will incur substantial financial penalties, or will incur lost revenue. Far better to put something live by the required date than nothing at all. Where one has all the time in the world, and the budget to support it, there is nothing wrong in following a methodology to the letter.
Most methodologies have proved that they produce very robust solutions. Clients are not complete idiots.
Making Same Mistakes
Point 6 makes the generalisation that the same mistakes are being made up and down the land. Yes, this has been a problem for a long time, and it is down to many clients not adopting a proven project management methodology.
There have been significant improvements in this area, with Prince 2 leading the way. It would be of great benefit if this became the industry standard. Part of the methodology is to learn by mistakes.
It’s also fair to say that contractors see more bad projects than your average person does. It underlines why a client feels the need for contractors in the first place.
Don’t Ask Contractors for Recommendations
The reason why clients seldom ask contractors for recommendations (point 7) is because of the virtual certainty that they will try to recruit friends of theirs. Clients are not complete idiots.
Often these friends turn out to be not as competent as they were made out to be. It’s unfortunate, but the damage was done years ago.
Paying Too Much for Consultants
Contractors are hired to do a specifically prescribed piece of work. Consultants (point 8) are brought in for an entirely different reason. Very few contractors market themselves as consultants.
If a client feels a need for the involvement of consultants (who generally operate at a managerial level) then it is a lot easier for them to approach an established firm of consultants.
Again, cost comes in to this. It is unlikely that consultants would be hired if the company didn’t recognise that some tangible (financial) benefit would ensue in the long term.
Letting Contractors go en masse, and then re-hiring others
Contractors are often released en masse due to budgetary constraints. If a manager hasn’t got the money, then the contractor isn’t going to get paid. There’s no contractor that wants to work for nothing.
It is unlikely that this would happen on a critical must-have project. Money would be found. However, if a project is not time critical the company can afford to let the contractors go knowing that although the project has been set back, it is no cause for alarm.
They don’t let a whole load of contractors leave just for the sheer devilment of it. Clients are not complete idiots.
Unfortunately, people are often promoted to their level of incompetence (point 10).
This doesn’t just happen in IT, it happens the world over. One only has to look at Presidents and Prime Ministers.
Well, contractors – what do you think of this guys reply? Is he right?
You can add comments below.