Contract negotiation and on we go

Previous instalments

IT investment for the smaller business
Where has all the money gone
Requirements gathering the first big mistake

A shock for the project manager

In the last instalment we discussed the way in which a vendor had been chosen with near total disregard for the goals of the project in the course of making that decision. Now we will look at what happened after the decision was made.
The next agenda item directly after awarding the contract was to negotiate and agree details and on this occasion it was led by the vendors legal team and the sales rep.  The atmosphere was very warm and jovial and nothing was too much trouble in the vendors quest to make the new customer happy.

So far so good

The contract was agreed just after lunch on day two and everyone went away with a sense of achievement.
Deliverables were carefully defined and the acceptance criteria was very forgiving. It would have been clear to any pro that there was a lot of stuff not mentioned that would need to be done and paid for, but it was not brought up.  The bulk of the cost was loaded up front with a year’s licenses to be paid for immediately and support to begin charging on contracted release day.
There was an SLA, but it gave no guarantees of times to fix issues, only times to address them. The rate for professional services was a little steep at £1400 a day but it seemed academic.
The real problem with this contract was that it never referenced the now academic requirements documentation (In any case it was pretty useless) and
the contract revolved entirely around delivery of a certain feature set as described by the vendor in features language, not in business need language.
Success criteria is defined as delivering this feature set by a given date and to a given cost
At this point we have two teams involved; a project team that is now providing services to the vendor to get the job done and a vendor with the goal of delivering the described features and getting paid.   Our initial problem of lack of experience and know-how in the sales and marketing teams has never been addressed and is not on any radar and there is nothing anywhere, either spoken or written to say that delivery of this feature set will solve the defined problems I.E. the business case has been forgotten. In fact the thing that really swayed the decision on which vendor to use was a very sexy system that lets  the user record telephone conversations and the hardware to make this work pushed up the cost.
Here’s the shock for the project manager.
The sales rep is now cosy with another potential client and the project manager is left dealing with the professional services team tasked with delivering the project to tight budgets.   Now he’s dealing with a real project manager and a hard nosed business man who survives by taking no prisoners and earns bonus by growing the contract value through extras. He is a past master at dealing out the rope and charging to reel it back in and he’s seen all the snivelling before. He is the essence of tact and diplomacy but his hand is firmly in the project managers pocket.

The roller coaster

Within two weeks of contract completion, the mood has turned frostier and it is clear that this is not precisely what the project manager had expected and hoped for.  Everyone is now locked into a roller coaster of milestones and budgets and the reason for it all is completely forgotten. That was handled in phase one, wasn’t it?  You get on in the corporate world by meeting milestones, not by delivering results and certainly not by making waves.

We are where we are

We are now on ride that won’t slow down until this thing, whatever it is going to look like, is delivered and we can start the job of making it work and getting people to use it so we don’t lose face.
Nobody who suspects the truth, if such a person exists, has the seniority or the courage to step out of the line shout horses@”!* and nobody with the authority or the presence to do something has any idea that things are not what they seem.

In the next instalment we will look at the the end game

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