Scott Middleton scott at terminus.net.au
Fri Mar 16 17:45:07 WST 2007

Long time without posting.

This sort of subject comes up a lot with SLPWA. 

I have often had to make that difficult decision. Sometimes I think I have
given up on a client too easily and other times not soon enough. Recently I
walked out on an interview with a potential client because I saw early signs
of a person not capable of listening. Maybe they knew better but they were
not prepared to listen. After all, why hire us to consult if you already
know what to do!

Documentation is the key.

A few of years ago I was given very good advice from Harry McNally about
getting paid in advance with a new client. Since then I have developed
documentation to protect me from "unforseeable circumstances". Part of my
Terms & Conditions state that I can in no way be held accountable by
"software not produced by me or hardware supplied by another entity for not
performing as expected" or similar. I also agree to conduct myself in a
"proper workman like manner".

I also have an "authority to proceed" document that states my Terms &
Conditions before I will do any work on credit. I have a job sheet that
needs to be signed by the client at the end of every job with my terms and
conditions. One of the other ideas I have (which has been very successful)
is our pre-paid. We offer a discounted rate if clients pay in advance and
this also includes regular maintenance.

All of these documents I have offered to SLPWA for our members to use and

I.T. is a difficult beast because there may be standards in some areas but
there is in no way a standard with all aspects. If the product was perfect
to begin with then an Service pack would be for upgrades only and not a bug

As Linux people we have an advantage in that Linux is mostly transparent and
documentable, so it is easier to offer a quantifiable fix. 

The morale is: Document yourself!


Scott Middleton  (scott at terminus.net.au)
Managing Director - Terminus Network Services
Vice-Chair - Society of Linux Professionals (WA)
Phone-(08)9213 0888 Fax-(08)9213 0889 Mob-0400 212 724 
Disclaimer: http://www.terminus.net.au/disclaimer.html

From: Alex Polglaze [mailto:apolglaze at book-keepingnetwork.com.au] 
Sent: Friday, 16 March 2007 8:12 AM
To: plug at plug.org.au

You're right. I appoligise for posting this. I just have to get used to the
classic situation where the consultant needs to fix the mess that occurs
the customer goes against their advice.
No what you have to decide and quickly, is who made the mess and who is
going to clean it up.

This is a classic quicksand situation, where they don't accept your initial
advice and then expect you to solve their problem.

If you want to survive in business you need to be able to decide when to
walk away. As I recall, it was their accountant who suggested this system.
Therefore, you should tell your client in no uncertain terms, that obviously
he knows more than you, get him to fix it and the walk away.

Either the accountant will fix it, unlikely, or get someone else, not your
problem, or they will come back to you and do it how you said in the first

If you stay there and get it working, all that you prove in your client's
eyes is that the accountant was right.

It will cost you if you stay.

I am talking from more than 20 years experience.

Feel free to contact me off list.


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