Thursday, 13 December 2012

It really should be Friday 13th

Today looked like it was going to be easy. I had a few calls to attend and needed to be around to answer any questions that might arise. Other than that I had nothing of any great urgency so settled down for a long overdue rest skive.

All was going swimmingly. I had marked out my mirror frame in preparation for cutting and had a fantastic walk around the frosty lanes. Shortly before lunch I had made a start on preparing this evening's Bolognese sauce when my instant messenger started to ping incessantly. It was the Pricer and she needed me to urgently check some numbers for her. After ten minutes with a spreadsheet I provided her with my numbers and she advised that she had confused cost with price and I was not to worry ... git!

As the afternoon trundled on things started to get worrying ...

... Our price is due for presentation tomorrow and late in the afternoon the Account Executive started asking peculiar questions like "why are these costs still in the proposal" and "why haven't these changes been executed". The Pricer, Sales Exec and I were a little stunned by these last minute scope changes and responded with an answer that went along the lines of "this is the first we have heard about changing the solution as we thought these elements were still to be proposed".

It is fair to say that the discussion became a little heated especially once the Pricer and I had realised that her instruction to us had been cryptically contained within an e-mail addressed to the client and on which we had been carbon copied. On re-reading the note I can most definitely advise that it is far from an instruction to re-solution and throughout the past couple of weeks I have spoken to her on a daily basis where I have been most clear on what I am, and am not, doing.

The Client Exec was insistent that the changes needed to be made in time for tomorrow's presentation. We advised that this was a significant piece of work and that SMIs should really be engaged and a series of re-approvals should also be requested and obtained. This resulted in the Exec taking on the persona of the wicked witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.* We let her rant on for a while and took quiet amusement as we attempted to pin down her requirements and made her backtrack a number of times due to her general confusion and tendency to contradict herself.

The net result of the call was that we would start to progress the changes but would most definitely not subvert process, all necessary approvals would be obtained...

... There are changes and then there are CHANGES. The ones we are being asked to make sit as the less risky end of the spectrum but they are significant enough for us to run in to real trouble in later rounds of this deal unless we have sufficient Executive awareness and consent at this stage. I put a quick call in to IM and soon found myself in a three way conversation with him and his Boss. A pragmatic way forward was soon found and Boss Lady has the clout to allow us to proceed and meet the deadline.

All I needed to do was spend a couple of happy hours crafting carefully worded e-mails, making changes to cost models and chasing reluctant senior managers for approvals.

When I find the time I am going to get to the bottom of why we found ourselves in this mess.
* not particularly scary, but quite comical

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