Are you getting the message?
Message to clients and contractors alike: Clients don’t just want good development. They want to know how to move it from instance to instance OR how to adjust it.
Price shouldn’t always be the deciding factor
Don’t hire developers on just price. Hire them because they know how to document their work as well in your native language. Or hire technical writers to follow them around and capture their work in document deliverables.
There are some big staffing (you are not a consulting firm!) firms out there who are “dumping” developers on clients with no regard to quality nor transferability of the work. You know who you are.
Does size matter?
If you truly want to hire based on size and less risk, then hire the biggest firms who specialize in this work. I can name a few big ones. Pick the ones that have been around spanning decades. They cost more. Don’t pick a firm that is big just because it is big. Do you really need to hear that?
Your investment in your internal staff is key to risk no matter what implementation firm you choose. You took too long to implement because you didn’t start the project right. You spent more than you budgeted because you didn’t start your project right. You failed becaused you failed internally first. Oracle applications are “off the shelf” and truly have flexible “off the shelf” functionality used in your industry and across all industries. You need to catch up with Oracle functionality before you start adding functionality. Even if you are re-implementing, you should prepare your internal staff first.
Boasting: As a small firm owner, I can build and insure just as big a project as the big boys can. I can staff it with higher quality resources who must finish the job with the highest quality work expectations. Because I don’t have competition, I can hire the best versus what I have on the payroll. I can monitor it for the same money as the big firm but I have far less overhead. You can speak to the actual owner when you have a complaint. I have access to the same resumes that the big firms do. I am higher by the hour but lower cost for the entire implementation. I don’t mind telling you things that you don’t want to hear because I need you to be successful. I have time to actually measure the staff’s abilities and ensure they perform. Hmmm?
Small firms don’t have the capital to build a small army of experts. And you would expect the big firms to do this, right? Well then I have prepared and set those expectations (and demands) when the big firm arrives at the client’s door.
Don’t feed the bears
Stop the feeding. Monitor the activities if you have the dependency issues on your site.
If it is wrong, then fix it. Hire a crew that will audit, monitor, and recommend solutions to reduce your development dependency.
I could write a whole article on the amount of corruption happening with the contracting/staffing firms flooding the North American and European markets over the past few years but I will save that one for later. Eventually, they will no longer be anonymous and it won’t be a problem naming the guilty firm parties.
But currently, the business world is actually choosing the cheap alternative knowing full well the repercussions. So the business world must conscientiously stop spending money on big contracting firms just because they have the illusion of “big safe”.
If you think that putting 100 junior people in your site to develop on the “off the shelf” software you already purchased is a wise approach, then frankly I have to ask “where did you get your common sense?”
I wish I was exaggerating at 100 but I have seen far worse occurring.
You don’t need 100 developers anywhere anytime on an Oracle ERP/EBS implementation. I don’t care how big your company is. You have thousands of developers at the Oracle Corporation the “off the shelf” software already.
Painting yourself in the corner
You are putting yourself at risk of dependency on these “over customizers”. You need to pay attention to your investment up front. By continuing to allow yourself to be overcustomized and not documenting it, you are painting yourself into a corner.
1) Over customizing will stop your lower cost upgrades.
2) Sloppy development will always have high maintenance and unhappy users.
3) Undocumented development will be hard to move and reuse elsewhere.
4) Unmonitored development will lead to mystery disappearence back to the homeland for the developers. You wait to see the results at the due date and suddenly the developer gets sick, quits, or just disappears without explanation. Don’t believe me?
5) Unmonitored and undocumented development will make you start all over.
It is your fault. It is not the fault of the horrible developer and the horrible staffing firm that you did not monitor nor ensure proper documentation. It is the fault of person writing the checks. I am sorry if you get offended by this. You should try to understand what I am saying in this last point.
You or the consulting firm are painting yourself in the corner!! Wake UP!!
There is a difference between the big consulting firms and the big staffing firms. Today, I think it is easy to distinguish the difference between real consulting firms and IT Staffing firms based on where their people are coming from and where the majority of their people are working.
What are you doing to yourself?
When the contractors are done customizing you to death and you become broke with regard to your IT budget, you will be exhorted because you now don’t know how to live without the developers. Where were you in the 80s?
Document the work that your developers are doing while they are doing it. Not before and NOT afterwards
Monitor your developers! If you don’t have time or people to monitor the developers then don’t use developers. Really… I believe that you (the client) should see the developer’s work on a weekly basis. If you can’t see the work weekly then set up a presentation every two weeks (on your instances).
I can usually only speak of Oracle E-Business Suite or Oracle PIM Data Hub implementations because I don’t know enough about the rest of the IT world. If I was managing another peice of software or a new application development, I would monitor more the results of an unknown skill set than I would something that I am very good at.
Off the shelf software implementations should be documented with regimented and structured deliverables such as configuration documentation. There is no mystery to them. There is no art to them. Configuration is easily documented. Development is a little more difficult to design but just as simple to document when it comes to “off the shelf” implementations of Oracle Applications.
Protect your investment by documenting and monitoring constantly your money. If you don’t consider it your money, then don’t ask for a raise. ha ha….
No consultant should find it offensive if the client expects to monitor progress and pay for documentation. But I also ask that you don’t stand there and look over the shoulder hour by hour while someone is trying to work. Let the great developer have some freedom to work Monday through Thursday and show you their progress on Friday.
You need to make time on your project plan to monitor and document. Documentation should be “pre templated” so that the developer has your expectations up front. You should understand completely the desired extension, conversion, report, or interface in detail before you engage the developer.
If there is room for interpretation of your functional specifications, then let the developer have a couple of days to read it over (on your dime not theirs) and ask questions to get absolute clarification. If it is too big to get it all in one, then break it down.
As a project manager and an implementation specialist, it is frustrating that the client expects developers to work separately and not under the functional management direction. Believe it or not, business can actually lead and set development expectations.
Business shouldn’t shop during implementation. Business should manage during implementation. You are no longer the customers. You are the responsible people in charge of making the software work for you. If the business has allowed time upfront for a configuration design phase before building/development phase then everything should be less difficult and far more optimize to manage.
Please stop making decisions for the sake of making a decision. If you feel like things don’t make sense then question them until you understand. I have enabled accountants to run IT projects. It is not difficult if the committment is their. If you can make sure your plumber does a good job or your hair stylist then why can’t you ensure your developers do a good job? My point is that you can see the results in documentation and monitoring regardless of your ability to judge code.
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