Not literally, of course. A close contact of mine works for a tech company that recently purchased my contact’s internal department and took all the employees across under TUPE to provide the same services under a commercial contract. Unfortunately, they did too little planning and are now paying the price.
The tale so far
I’m not going to name names, not because I think anyone should be protected but because I have a pathological fear of lawyers! There is far too much blame being bandied around right now and I’d hate to find more of it attaching to me....
In short, my contact is a programming specialist and was providing data analytics services internally within a large organisation. His work was valued and he delivered what they needed, on time and in an easy-to-grasp format. Then a large private concern decided to bid for the contract to do the same work with their product and they absorbed my contact’s department into their organisation. Since then they appear to have lurched from disaster to disaster and the end client has become increasingly exasperated.
For my contact the nightmare now is that he keeps being asked to make his employer’s product deliver the service when it is incapable of doing so. The developers are having to change it on a regular basis; his bosses keep changing their instructions to him to try to accommodate what can be done rather than what really needs to be done; and everyone is threatening everyone else as the mad scramble to deliver something – anything! – in approximate compliance with the contract. It’s painful to watch.
The lessons I draw from this
Salesmen love to say, “yes”, but that isn’t always the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In complex sales, such as technical services, thorough planning, detailed understanding of client needs and a ruthless assessment of one’s own capacity and capabilities is vital before allowing anyone to answer in the affirmative. If your product should be able to deliver what the client requires but you know it cannot yet achieve that, then be harsh in your analysis of what needs to happen to make it possible – the time, the resources, the costs.
Fire-fighting in business is an enormously inefficient way to work. Good planning helps avoid this notorious pitfall and would, in this instance, have saved my contact a lot of heartache and needless pressure.