“Doctor, when I do this it hurts. My hair is thinning, and I am tired all the time.”
“Is that all?”
“Yes, other than this strange growth on my neck. What can you give me to make it better?”
“We must run some test first to see if these symptoms are related and then figure out what is causing them.”
“You doctors are all alike, you just want to run my bill up with unnecessary test, so you can make a car payment or even a house payment. Just prescribe something, and I will be on my way.”
The patient in the above dialogue is a Buffoon.
Oddly enough, I get this same kind of rhetoric when I am called out to come up with a disaster recovery plan and discover that they have many other issues.
“Do you think you can fix these issues we are having?”
“What are some of the issues?”
“Computers drop off the network for no reason. Printers often don’t get their print jobs, we think it is the printer, so we keep calling Cannon out, but they never fix it! The internet is slow and sometimes unresponsive. Our phones don’t always work. The phone vendor keeps telling us it is not his problem but you know those vendors, get your money and then forget they know you. My lead guy tells me we need more internet bandwidth, would that fix it?”
“It sounds like you have some serious issues, when would you like me to start?”
“Start? Just go push the right button and fix it! How long will it take?”
“It depends on what I find.”
“What do you charge?”
“$125 an hour unless you would like to have me out here on a contract for a set amount of time.”
“What would you charge if I contract with you for two hours.”
“$250, (and it may be more if I have to deal with stupid nonsense like this, while I am working.)
“Truly I get this kind of stuff from CIO’s no less.”
The old joke about a thousand dollars regarding kicking a computer to make it work is just a joke. While that might end up being the final diagnosis (which I doubt), this is a mindset from those who have no idea of what they are talking about.
Truly if it is from someone outside of IT, it is not their fault. Their job is to run the company, turn a profit or drive the business to produce more of what they do. It is not to run IT. Now if the CIO has this dialogue with you as a consultant then you have issues.
Some people are in high up positions because of who they knew and not what they knew. Some are there because their parents own the company. I personally try to stay out of situations like that because it hardly ever ends well. I have done it many times in the past. One of the most frustrating things is working for a guy “CIO” who did not even have a computer at home. He knew little about computers or technology other than green screen 5250 stuff as a programmer, using RPG or Cobol.
When I walk in your door to resolve an issue or create a disaster recovery plan, there are things that I want to see.
- Up to date network map.
- A runbook
- I will want to see the recent logs from the servers.
- I will want to see your notes from the change control committee. (living document)
- I will ask about your issues from the past to current. Are there pain points and what are they?
- I will want to know what you would like to see as a deliverable. (an end goal)
- I will want to know about your business model, so I can best position you for the future.
- I will ask about the age of the hardware and what your hardware asset management looks like.
- I will also want to know the same about your software. S.A.M.
- I will want to see the licenses for the software that you have and I will want to see where the software is and when, if ever was it updated.
If you asked your CIO for these things, could he provide them?
As the CEO, ignorance is not an option. There are seldom good surprises in business.
There are many other things I will want to have handy before I even begin to diagnose, troubleshoot or create a disaster recovery plan. One of the most effusive displays of frustration from a client was when I discovered through digging that someone had spliced network cable improperly and it would need to be replaced. Cat 5 to Cat 3 no less.
Yes, I will want to know about the cable plant. Was it installed all at one time or has it evolved over the years? When you climb into the overhead ceiling to find a gob of electrical tape or even scotch tape holding network cable together, that will make your blood run cold. If they are that stupid or cheap unless they are under new management or are willing to hand you the checkbook, you probably should just walk away. Life is too short.
When I talk with potential customers, I can get a sense of their knowledge level quick enough. How is that done?
I was in data processing long before Bill Gates was a household name. Steve Jobs was still a criminal selling blue boxes made in his garage and CPM was the operating system. What I do is not cheap but, it is worth it. Most companies that have a disaster if not resolved within three days go out of business.
“We live in Dallas Texas, what kind of disaster could we have that would put us out of business?”
The disaster that I see the most often was caused by employee error. I do a risk assessment as part of the deliverable which many companies need for their insurance provider.
Now that we are in 2018 is this the year that you pay attention to your network and other infrastructure? Is this the year that you look at security both digital and physical? “yes, I do that too.”
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