Yet Another Management WTF



  • A few years back, I worked for this not-for-profit place that managed retirement accounts for a large national group of folks in the U.S. They were FTP'ing transaction files to one of the stock exchanges a couple of times a day, and would get back files (also via FTP) later the same day. The problem was that they needed to do it in real time (everyone had to migrate from FTP to real time messaging per mandate from the exchange in order to speed things up and save costs in the long run), had no idea how to do it, and so hired me (messaging is one of the things I know well). <p>

    I analyzed the problem, took inventory of the existing infrastructure, proposed a solution that would solve many messaging issues they faced in addition to the immediate problem, negotiated on the budget, got approval, bought and installed all the software/machines (in dev, test, qa, prod and dr environments, per corporate requirements) to handle all the different business problems. Then the QA team got invovled.<p>

    I think an indicative comment from one of the QA folks pretty much sums things up: "But how do you [i]know[/i] that the data gets through if there's no file at the other end to verify?" No amount of explanation would ever get this group beyond this point.<p>

     I, along with my counterparts in the other (non-QA) groups involved tested the system using round trip test transactions and verified the system worked as required and in less than the required round trip time. The cost for all of this? More than triple what they were paying for ftp privileges, plus hot/standby servers in 5 environments, T1 lines, backup connections, switches, cross-overs, DMZ routers, etc. Multi-year contracts were signed to get discount pricing. In all, over $1MM was spent.<p>

    To date (a couple of years), not one single message has been sent through the pipes because QA hasn't blessed it. I've long since been laid off because they wanted to save money. <p>

    The other day, I got a phone call from the company asking me to come back (the QA team has been disbanded). They admitted that they're burning through costs for the unused infrastructure, and are now getting fines from the exchange because they haven't yet migrated to real time messaging. I told them that in the years that have passed, I've long since acquired alternate employment and am not available, but would be willing to do night time and weekend consulting for $500/hour (that's double the rate that they routinely pay for consulting companies to come in and tell them how to do stuff). I figure that if they're behind the 8-ball, they should be made to pay, especially since they are too stupid to know they already have a fully functioning solution in place. So far, they are balking at my proposed rate (the fines are $1,000.00/file/transmission @ 8 files/day * 5 days/week * 52 weeks/year = $2,080,000/year) . <p>

    How do these managers keep getting hired?



  • This is why they stalling ...

    (1)  Because the fines very likely do not come out of the IT budget, your consulting fees do ...

    (2) Somebody in IT management would have to admit being wrong by hiring you.

    (3) You are too cheap. They have a big problem and thus must require big bucks to solve - otherwise management admits that they are wrong. Explanantion: when "big problems" require a comparatively financial layout to solve then this indicates "management-WTF"to C-level executives. So, my friend: you ARE too cheap because they don't take you seriously. You should have asked them for $2000/hr during normal weekday business hours (with cumulative overtime/night-time and weekend clauses) on purely pay-as-you-go-type contract basis and you would have been set.

    Hope this helps.



  • @cklam said:

    You should have asked them for $2000/hr

    And I thought $500 was pushing it. Gotta start thinking bigger...



  • @snoofle said:

    @cklam said:

    You should have asked them for $2000/hr

    And I thought $500 was pushing it. Gotta start thinking bigger...

    I hate to be the one to say it, but listening to cklam is just moronic.  I would advise against it. 



  • @snoofle said:

    I think an indicative comment from one of the QA folks pretty much sums things up: "But how do you know that the data gets through if there's no file at the other end to verify?" No amount of explanation would ever get this group beyond this point.

    This reminds me of something that I ran into a few weeks ago at a client site. It has a SCADA/HMI system that dumps data into MSSQL with a timestamped column in the tables. The question that I was asked was basically "where does the timestamp come from?" Of course it comes from the servers system time, but apparently that answer wasn't good enough for the originator of the question. They wanted proof that the servers system time percolated up into the application.

    I can understand asking questions to clarify things but at some point you have to accept some things on an authoritative basis. Otherwise you end up going down the the path that leads to "I will bring a suitable tie"



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I would advise against it. 

    FWIW: I seriously doubted the company would even have gone for the standard $250/hr consulting rate; $500 was nearly certainly grounds for not hiring me (e.g.: not getting the work done), which is sort of the payback I wanted anyway.



  • @snoofle said:

    $500 was nearly certainly grounds for not hiring me (e.g.: not getting the work done), which is sort of the payback I wanted anyway.
     

    Exactly. If it's a job you don't really want, then aim high.  You'll either get what you want, or get a hell of a lot of money for the time you didn't want to spend.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I hate to be the one to say it, but listening to cklam is just moronic.  I would advise against it. 

     

    +1. I totally agree with you.  The guy's obviously a POS.



  • Thank you for not going back to work for them, so we can get new material for this site.


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