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Shady Characters

I once worked for a software company where the end users would have consultants come in to install and maintain our software.  The problem was that these consultants were rip-offs.  They probably charged the end-user through the roof and on top of it all they called us, the software company, on issues such as intsallation and network problems.  Unbelieveable.  Anyway these half-baked consultants would ask questions like "Why can't I print from this workstation?"  And then I'd ask them, "Well can you print from any other program?"  They'd say "No." and then admit that the problem was on their end.  I was wondering if anyone on this board still experiences dealing with these shady characters today or has the economy weeded them out?

Peace out
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I'm not certain. My gut feeling is "no".

Here's why.

Consultants are really vendors. Vendors are generally selected based mainly upon comfort level that the managers or owners have with the consultants. That comfort level may have nothing to do with reality. Generally it has the most to do with the personal rapport between the managers and the vendors. Someone who doesn't know sh*t but who is personable and flatters the management may be selected more readily than the highly competent and effective technical professional who isn't quite as warm and friendly.

Oh, and another thing. The people in an organization who are in the best position to observe the shortcomings of hired expertise are generally the exact people whose opinion is masked out by executives and managers.  The wanna be consultant's incompetency may be apalling, but someone who is respected by management generally must make that call. 

Technical employees are usually not respected well enough to be heard in this context.  Exceptions exist, but they are exceptions.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

>I once worked for a software
>company where the end users
>would have consultants come
>in to install and maintain
>our software

I have never, EVER, understood this mentality.

Really, how hard is it to insert a CD and click:

1) Yes, I agree to the EULA
2) Standard Install
3) Yes
4) Next
5) Next
6) Next

?

That's about 95% of software installations.

The argument I heard against it was essentially "If we let users install themselves - why - we don't have the energy to support all the damage we will do!!!"

Then again, we pretty much did it anyway (At least, the coders did)  - once in three years we had a problem and had to re-ghost a system - that was from trying to run VS 6.0 and .Net side-by-side.  Otherwise, there was no problem.

It's INSANE to have people who's job it is to install software. I do not get it. 

And, what's worse, the people who would take a job installing software are generally of - shall we say - a lower calibre than most technical professionals?

In other words, Joey the Accountant should probably have access to his own box, since the guy you hired and gave access to instead is probably more dangerous ...

sigh ...

Matt H.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

> It's INSANE to have people who's job it is to install software. I do not get it. 

I disagree - depending on the software

Without mentioning any names, I have come across many packages where you need to be a real expert to install it correctly. Things like you need to recompile the kernel in a certain way which is highly dependent on what else is on the system, or things which require tons of fine tuning to the customers particular environment.

S. Tanna
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

>I disagree - depending on the software

I will grant you this for SERVER software - SQL Server, Oracle, Web Servers, UNIX, etc.

I was talking about DESKTOP software for Win32.

Sure, there are exceptions - I was talking generalities ...

Matt H.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I'm no admin, but don't Windows 2000 permissions have a lot to do with why users aren't allowed to install their own software?  A lot of companies have problems with employees downloading and installing software from the internet - often programs that cause headaches for admin's.  So the admins limit the executables a user can run to those in the startup image.

And you can't blame the admins - I've seen some pretty bad abuses.  I remember about 4 years ago, the company I worked for was having network bandwidth problems.  They tracked it down and found that a huge number of people had installed PointCast (streaming news software).  Once it was eradicated, no more bandwidth problems.

Nick
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

The motivation to use consultants to do workstation software installations is probably a combination of: a desire for safety and high productivity; a sense of assurance; and a fear that the FTEs may not know what they're doing.

Companies that use consultants to do stuff like this usually aren't technology based, so all the intuition that says "but it's just a Windows app" is out the window. All the management may know is that their users can't use this or that or can't print from a particular computer or can't get at some files or can't dial in or that someone's PC is always screwed up. So they hire a solution out of the box so that their employees can get back to work.

It's not rocket science to understand this equation and it's not abject stupidity on the part of companies either. It's simply a desire to not waste time on non-core activities.

And yes, some vendors do abuse client trust. I won't and don't, but many will. Which gives all contractors a black eye.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

maybe the manager bringing in the consultant needs to spend some of his budget. maybe that manager is getting a "rebate" from the consultancy; at the very least he is getting gifts and meals.

There is nothing shady about this either. It is business. Play the game or be played.

Tom Vu
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Taking advantage of people is not a freakin game.  If this is the way you do business then you need to be behind bars getting rammed in the ass by Bubba.


Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Win2000/XP does not give you write access to registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE if you are not admin, so only admin can install software that wants to write config parameters  in that key (e.g. app parameters that are common for all users on that computer).
If all users on your network are admins then no problem, otherwise there should be "installerboy(girl)" available.

drazen
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Anyone else annoyed by the implication of
"I really don't trust the people who work for me to perform simple tasks, so I'll pay someone I don't know three times as much to do it"

?

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Dear Drazen,
                      In plenty of places they let the user log on to the local computer as administrator. It all depends if you want to control what they put on the machine. You certainly don't need to give them network admin rights.

                    Even if you want to keep them off the local machine you normally use one of your people to do the installs. You certainly wouldn't want to use outside consultants for shrink wrapped software.

                    Now connecting to an Oracle database is a different matter. It took our DBA something like 15 minutes each workstation.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Depending upon the application you can 'run as' an administrator to install it.  You can do that either by SHIFT-Right Click on the application file or from the command window (or Run), using runas.

This still doesn't work for all applications, at the moment I'm trying to get Openoffice running as a user which is proving harder than it should be.

Other things that need doing, enable the permissions on the Program Files folder and enable the permissions for the MACHINE registry.  Both these can be set in a Global Policy for Computer Settings.

It would be useful if there was a profile labelled 'Power User' which gave the equivalence of Power User to roaming profile users.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Philo:  I agree, that's definitely a process smell.

Brent P. Newhall
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Philo:

>> Anyone else annoyed by the implication of
"I really don't trust the people who work for me to perform simple tasks, so I'll pay someone I don't know three times as much to do it"

Again (and I don't understand why a concept like 'division of responsibilities' is so hard to convey):

You would prefer secretaries to upgrade their MS Office?

You'd have salespeople installing databases?

You want real estate agents to set up their own personal firewalls?

And you'd like to see marketers and advertising people setting up their routers or upgrading web sites?

Yeah, each group would probably try to do the job, and some would succeed. The rest would wind up with crippled applications, unstable PCs, etc. But the point is, these are typical classes of employees commonly found in non tech companies, and even a lot of tech companies.

Haven't you ever worked with end users? That's the *definition* of an end user: they are a consumer of technology ... a user... not a tech. They can use the stuff... they are not experienced in setting up technology even for their own use.
And many businesses (and a lot of departments w/in larger companies) just can't afford to keep an IT specialist around who will be idle most of the time. We're talking places to whom even doing their custom software is inconceivable.

Enter the consultant.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I read this topic and thought "They're talking about programming..."  Then I thought "What could be shady about a character?"

My mind is so literal sometimes :)

Hey!  Stop you "H"!!!

Wayne
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Yep, my first thought was that this was a thread about antialiasing fonts!

Phillip J. Eby
Thursday, May 22, 2003

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