My car broke down at a Sam's Club once. I was literally right down the street from my own mechanic. The tow truck driver shows up after my AA call and can't stop talking about this other mechanic down the street. My own mechanic was closed but I could have simply left my car in his parking lot and dropped the keys in the mailbox at the shop. Instead I allowed the tow truck driver to talk me into taking my car to a mechanic that was open nearby. It turned out that this other mechanic was a crook and tried to charge me several hundred dollars for 'trying' to fix my timing chain. Of course I eventually took my car to my real mechanic, found out the truth, and threatened to sue unless I got my money back. So what was the lesson of the story and why is it important for a LIMS professional? You have to learn to deal with bad circumstances with calmness and repose or you risk getting taken for a ride by 'Fast Buck Freddy' (FBF). Today we are going to concentrate on learning to manage leverage.
I could never prove it but I have no doubt that the crooked mechanic shop and the tow truck driver had an inside deal. The driver would likely get a kick back for every hapless 'customer' brought their way. A tow truck driver is in an ideal position to make strong offers on behalf of a strategic partner because he has you at a disadvantage. If you complain and insist upon being taken to your own mechanic he or she will have to comply. Sure they might have to charge you extra if you go beyond some certain mileage but that would probably be stipulated in your agreement.
When you are afraid, look nervous, or in need of help you are emitting all of the signals an FBF is looking for. Your number one defense against the FBF type is to neither look nor sound desperate. The old statement that 'everything is negotiable' is the favorite phrase of the FBF. In their minds everything, even the things they have already agreed to, are still somehow up for negotiation.
You need to pay special attention to this when contracting because a lack of a clear statement of work (SOW) can be construed by a FBF to mean anything that they assign during the period is automatically your responsibility. Not so. You can choose to go off-script and perform some additional items but no SOW can mean you have agreed to become the dumping ground for things that others failed to complete or near impossible assignments. You might be thinking you have a six month contract but the client really is expecting to keep you around for a year and a half. If they communicated that to you up front you might negotiate for a different rate or for some additional terms.
Communication and Logging
Communication is always the key to staying out of trouble. When you encounter a client that refuses to develop an SOW assume that your first task is to produce one and send it to him/her via e-mail. Microsoft Outlook and other e-mail clients have a 'read receipt' feature that allows for an additional e-mail to be sent by the server when an e-mail has been opened and read. If your client balks about this explain that an SOW is not optional. You cannot perform work unless there is a clear statement about deliverables and that SOW makes sense given the amount of time your contract is slated to last.
Your second action must be done with increased frequency depending on the client: logging. You must log not only your hours worked but *what you did* during that time. If a project manager calls you up and has no idea what you are working on it is a high sign that you need to maintain a detailed log. You are looking at the distinct possibility of being cheated out of your hours if you cannot provide lots of detail regarding your activities, who you met with, and how your activities helped propel the project toward a favorable conclusion. Try adding identifiers to your log entries that match line items in your SOW. Here's an example:
- Thursday, September 22, 2016 9:43 - Working on SOW item 22.
- Thursday, September 22, 2016 9:48 - Talking with Tom regarding system outages.
Notice that the second item listed someone the consultant was talking to. This is a very important but often skipped detail about logging. If a company claims you did not work the hours it will be very difficult to eradicate the records and memories of client employees that remember interacting with you. These can be referred to later on to prove that you were indeed working on the assignment.
We live in a world where stealing, theft, and dishonesty abound. We cannot change the world but we can build up our defenses against those that would try and use their positions of power to take advantage of the weak. This is why we have courts of law, but without good record keeping and your resolve to stay out of trouble they are not of much use.Go Back
Citation: Fast Buck Freddy. (2016). Retrieved Wed Mar 22 22:12:13 2017, from http://www.limsexpert.com/cgi-bin/bixchange/bixchange.cgi?pom=limsexpert3;iid=readMore;go=1474556146