Beware Permies making promises to Contractors

Beware Permies and their promises
Beware Permies and their promises

Beware Permies Making Promises

Beware Permies was posted as comments after an article of ours.

He says that you should watch out for them.

Don’t believe their promises.

Consultancy in Cambridge

Not too long after graduating I worked for a consultancy/contractor in Cambridge and we had a customer in London. They wanted me to take a crude program their senior IT guy had written and improve it.

It would process a log file and spit out some simple stats.

He explicitly said there was no need to make it clever or robust. They needed no comments in code or error checking as it would only be used by him. They would only need it for a few days until they built the proper system stats into the system.

Problem Over Billing

Many months later when my employer and the customer had a problem over billing (they were very bad payers) the customer complained that my program wasn’t very well written. There was a lack of error checking and no comments.

I had to write a specific statement and practically get it notarised that it was the customer’s decision to have a quick and dirty special. They told me not to spend more time than strictly necessary.

Valuable Lessons

This gave me valuable lessons in dealing with customers:

* Never give your customers crappy code even if they beg for it. That’s unless they formally sign that they understand it‘s a crappy solution.

* No temporary solution is temporary – quick and dirty hacks live a long time.

* If you don’t comment your code, at least add a comment to say it‘s a quick and dirty hack and no one should ever use it in production.

* If a program is temporary, make it print that out. Ideally have an expiry date in it!

Has anyone else experienced the Perfidy of Permies, i.e. where they tell you one thing and then leave you with the blame afterwards when something else was wanted?