Friday, March 11, 2011

Projects You Didn't Know About

One of the fun parts of support is that often you don't hear about a project a client is doing until they're in the middle of it.... and they have a problem or a question.

So you'll get an innocent-sounding question: "Is the OtherIdType XML node really required?" A quick check of the cc list on the email will show another vendor's name on there.

Congratulations. You've just entered a project you didn't know existed. Oh, and there's probably something not quite smooth about it (you may never hear about the projects that go smoothly). Think fast - you're standing in some metaphorical quicksand.


At this point, you have two goals:
  1. Answer the question
  2. Figure out what's going on to make sure the whole thing isn't sinking
Answering the question is important; you should pretty much always try to help your client understand your system better.

More important, though, is helping the overall success of the project. If you're standing in quicksand, not only do you want to stop the immediate sinking, but you also want to get out of the quicksand pit - or you're just going to start sinking again!

So answer the question, but more importantly, call your client (and not the vendor), and ask them for a 5 minute overview of the project so you can answer any other questions they might have. It takes 10 minutes, but that phone call can prevent a lot of future headaches.



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