Mon, 06 Jul 2009

Proper Care and Feeding of Computing Consultants

I’ve been doing this for a while. This is an aggregation of lessons I’ve learned while visiting various organizations, performing software installations and integration work. I hope this comes across as constructive. I assume male pronouns throughout for my own convenience. Feel free to search and replace as you see fit.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few things. If you have anything you’d like to add, please leave a comment.

  • Send the consultant an email with detailed directions to your location. If your company sits on a campus, make sure to let him know which building he’s visiting — he’s probably using an online map app to find your site, but those aren’t granular to the building level.
    • If special parking arrangements are necessary, let him know.
    • If there’s a gate, make sure to leave that security knows he’s coming, or at least make sure he knows who he needs to call when he gets there to gain access to the grounds.
    • If a visitor badge is required (it usually is), one that allows the consultant to take bathroom breaks without an escort is appreciated. :)
  • If your consultant is coming in from out of town, if you company has a preferred hotel, let him know. If there are any local restaurants/attractions/etc. that he should seek out/avoid, let him know. If he’s staying overnight, he may want to see some part of town outside his hotel walls and your office park. He’s away from home, and a happy consultant is a productive consultant.
  • Let your consultant bring in his phone and laptop onsite. Would you force your plumber to leave his wrench and pipe snake in the car?
    • Try not to freak out if the consultant’s phone has a camera. He’s just here to do his job, he’s not here to steal your secrets.
  • If he’s working on your systems, it is “nice to have” if you let him plug his laptop into your network directly. He likely has shortcuts, tools and scripts installed that will let him get his work done faster (it may even save you some money if he’s billing by the hour) if he doesn’t have to spend time duplicating his toolset onto a USB stick or CD while he works
    • It is understood that this is not always possible due to security policy.
    • If the consultant cannot be connected to your network, an external guest network with internet access is very nice to have. If the consultant can retrieve tools, scripts, and information from his office, he can consult his colleagues, try various scenarios on his office test systems, etc.
  • Unless he’s working directly on your server or network hardware, don’t make him work in the server room. It’s cold, deafeningly noisy, and probably has really lousy chairs. Provide a normal desk or conference room as a work area.
    • If you book a conference room, try to reserve it for the entire day. If you and your consultant have to uproot yourselves and your gear multiple times over the course of the workday, you’re losing time.
    • Verify beforehand that network drops, overhead projectors, etc. are working if the work you and the consultant are doing requires them. Once again, you’re saving yourself time and probably money.
  • If any access (hardware, network, software, etc.) requires management approvals, please try to get them all beforehand.
  • Related to the above, having a member of management available with approval/signing authority to get around unexpected roadblocks is a time/aggravation saver.

addendum: Adrian Sutton at Symphonious had a few more. Thanks, Adrian!

:: 19:20
:: /tech/computers/working | [+]
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