How NOT to Do Business

One of the goals of my former company was to “radically simplify” their processes to ensure business cost savings and to make doing business with the company easier for our customers.

As a contractor for them working on a key project, I have found this initiative to be a contradiction.  I was a cynic about it while working there, but as a contractor, it is fucking hilarious!


My project is to replace the provider between the company and several partners. For this example, I’ll use the number 5.  Forgive my chicken scratches, but this is a better visual of what I have been tasked with:

My job is to replace the green.

As part of the simplification, they actually decided to outsource the server and network stuff, so it really looks like this:

The dotted square around the Host Provider and Company is to group the stuff that should look and act like one company, if you will, to the partners and the provider.

But, it isn’t that simple.  The host provider doesn’t support everything. They provide the boxes and the cables and some of the software – but not the key software support I need. So, it looks more like this:

The company had to hire a support provider that will supplement the hosting company and what they provide.  But, the support provider acts like two separate organizations – the part the supports what is already in place, and the part that helps with changes or new stuff. So, it really looks like this:

So, now let’s count the number of people involved in this radically simplified model.

There are 7 entities involved which could include at minimum 1 person or several.  (I have 9 total people involved at a minimum).  I have to include myself because I’m not part of the company per say either.

And with the exception of the partner – everyone else gets paid for this project. It’s not free, and it isn’t cheap either.

Radically simplified?? Failed.

I have been working on this one project (which is like 5 projects because each partner is handled separately) for 3 months.  No one is really any closer to having this done today than it was in October.  Why? You can only go as fast as your slowest partner or company in this diagram.  Just takes one person not responding to an email or voice mail one day to delay the entire project. 

And, the partners – the partners who should look at the company and think the company is easy to work  – are getting the exact opposite impression.  And they, correctly so, do not care how many people the company has chosen to involve from how many different entities. It isn’t their problem – they just want it to be done when it should get done.

Easy to do business with?? Failed.

This project of replacing the provider represents quite a significant savings to the company, but the company cannot achieve it because too little control has been retained over the moving parts. Instead of telling someone to make this a priority, they have to negotiate that and keep their fingers crossed that the person doing the work doesn’t get replaced.  (In this case, #4 has been replaced 3 times now which means I have to start over with the new person.)

Ensure cost savings?? Failed.

When people ask me if I am sad I no longer work there, I have to reply that I am not.  They have created such a complicated model that no one can truly manage it and get results in time frame that the company truly needs.  The IT organization needs to be maneuverable like to a zippy car not a tour bus.  And in a company of 50-150 people, you (rightly so, IMO) expect responsiveness.

Oh yeah, execute changes quickly was another key objective.  Failed again.

Any guesses why the company is struggling? Anyone??

The upside for me? They are still paying my invoices. They are also not getting any closer to being done. In true form, this 3 month engagement could last 12 months. Let’s hope that the job market improves during that time.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hubman says:

    It sounds like the perfect contract gig to me- no measurable progress, which isn’t your fault AND you’re getting paid! Congratulations, you’ve found the private sector version of a gov’t job!

  2. I love it. I have to come up with cost savings here where I work but they never like my ideas. Then at the end of the year they say they should have done what I suggested. But do I get any credit. Nooooo. 🙂

  3. Just me... says:

    I’m sorry you’re having to put up with such foolishness.. But being in the ‘corporate’ world, I just had to laugh out loud!!! I’ve seen this silly-ass model more times than you can imagine! I think it comes about because no one wants to take responsibility and actually DO the task at hand (more people means more people to blame).. Or they’re just fucking idiots.. Either way, makes for strange times for us all!! Good luck!!

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