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
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
- 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
- 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
- Let your consultant bring in his phone and laptop onsite. Would
you force your plumber to leave his wrench and pipe snake in the
- 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
- It is understood that this is not always possible due to
- 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
- 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
- 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!
:: /tech/computers/working |
Picking up the pieces of my sweet shattered dream,
I wonder how the old folks are tonight,
Her name was Ann, and I’ll be damned if I recall her face,
She left me not knowing what to do.
Carefree Highway, let me slip away on you,
Carefree Highway, you seen better days,
The morning after blues, from my head down to my shoes,
Carefree Highway, let me slip away, slip away, on you…
Turning back the pages to the times I love best,
I wonder if she’ll ever do the same,
Now the thing that I call livin’ is just bein’ satisfied,
With knowing I got noone left to blame.
Carefree Highway, I got to see you, my old flame…
Searching through the fragments of my dream shattered sleep,
I wonder if the years have closed her mind,
I guess it must be wanderlust or tryin’ to get free,
From the good old faithful feelin’ we once knew.
— Gordon Lightfoot, “Carefree Highway”