RE: Goofy Consultants...

Subject: RE: Goofy Consultants...
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 5 Sep 2002 22:59:55 -0700

First, your previous post suggested that you might be relatively new to
this game... are you _really_ sure that this person doesn't know what
she's doing? Is she pretending to be a writer or a manager? If a
manager, it's entirely possible and probably frequent that people manage
writers without really knowing what the writer is doing. If so, there
may be aspects of your job that you need to _educate_ (not TRAIN) her
about. If you find it necessary to do so, you should attempt to avoid
condescension (and by all means do not use the word "goofy"). If she is
pretending to be a writer, perhaps you could explore why she wants you
to do things the way she's asking you to. Call it, ahem, "research" into
alternative practices, if you will. ;-)

Going around her and doing things the way you think they should be done
undermines her, reflects poorly on you, and possibly creates problems
for the project if there are things that you don't know about. What is
it that she doesn't know? What is her prior experience? I have to adopt
some skepticism here since we don't have specifics.

Second, on large projects it is extremely likely that you will find
consultants from multiple companies. Any potential competition between
your companies does not extend to you, the consultant. You are there to
make the client happy by producing the requested work and working with
whomever you are told to work. It's pretty much irrelevant that the
person managing your work is from a different company. (Yes, I suppose
there could be political issues, but let's imagine professionalism.)

Third, you're there to produce the documents the company wants, not to
get credit. If you're concerned about this person passing your work off
as her own, or assigning you credit for shoddy work that she does, well,
that's tricky and I think the CYA suggestions may be helpful. If you
have legitimate concerns about the process/output she's asking you to
use/produce, you may need to speak directly to the project manager to
express your concerns about the risks they pose _to the project_. This
discussion should absolutely not be personal nor should it be about
personal preferences. Heavy on the diplomacy and discussions of
standard, dare I say it, even "best" practices. ("You know, I haven't
produced note cards since the 7th grade.")

Fourth, as you go through the process of covering your tracks, make sure
you communicate with your manager at your company. This way if the
client ends up unhappy, your management can possibly back you up. All
the e-mails and documentation also cover your company's tail--if the
client ends up very unhappy and decides not to pay their bill, you can
provide your company with important documentation for the legal
wrangling that will follow.


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