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PICList Thread
'[OT] Olin, customer relationships, deadlines, stre'
2009\06\04@194020 by Vitaliy

Jesse Lackey wrote:
> After this thread finally dies I will reconsider posting anything to
> PIClist

Jesse, I think this would be a mistake.

You won't punish Olin by leaving. In fact, if you leave, the terrorists win.

Take what you can, give back according to your ability, ignore the grumpy
people, stay happy. :)

> since emails with the tone of the below make an already
> stressful situation (real world client work behind schedule) worse.

Now, regarding tight schedules creating stress.. we have a customer (a
mid-sized company) who is very impatient. Anytime we fall behind schedule
(most of the time, for reasons beyond our control) everyone from their
company, from the CEO to the janitor*, harrass our poor sales manager and do
everything they can to stress her out. The customer typically procrastinates
for months, and when things get hot, tries to bully us into expediting their
order. We constantly have to explain that a production cycle that normally
takes eight weeks, cannot be compressed into two.

One time I explained to their COO that pushing us to agree to their schedule
after we said we can't possibly do it, is counterproductive. In the best
case, it won't accomplish anything and will needlessly aggravate everyone
involved. In the worst case, we'll yield, overpromise, and deliver the
product weeks after the promised ETA. I think it is obvious that everyone is
better off if we give an honest estimate upfront, and let the customer make
the necessary arrangements to deal with the situation.

If you witnessed all the kicking and screaming, you'd think they're really
unhappy with our service. Yet, they've been buying from us for years, and
recently placed a new order. :-)

> Since I didn't trust my instincts on this project and client, and let
> myself be talked into doing it for significantly below a reasonable
> amount of money (after initially dumping it for financial and time
> reasons), I'm not going to spend more time following up with Microchip
> about it.  When the brownout is set to 4.2V, everything is fine and
> works properly, and I don't lose $350 going to a PIC18F6520.

In my experience, the best way to deal with unexpected problems and avoid
deadline crunches is to (1) have a sufficient time buffer [x2 + 2 weeks
rule], and (2) collaborate with the customer on a solution.

Try to talk to your customer (non-confrontationally). Explain that you
underestimated the amount of time/money to complete the project, and try to
renegotiate the terms. If they refuse, perhaps it makes sense to cut your
losses, and look for another client?

Best regards,


* Well OK, maybe not the janitor, but, literally: Product Engineer, Chief
Operating Officer, Business Administrator, Engineering Manager, Production

2009\06\05@013441 by Tony Vandiver

No fair, Olin got his name in the subject line on the piclist.  I'm
jealous.  I got fired by a customer this week.  You should try it
sometime - it's really quite liberating.  As it turns out, the very next
day I got two new projects from another customer that pays almost twice
the rate, and he's not a jerk.  It's a win-win situation.  As my
successful-in-business Uncle once told me when asked what's the most
important thing that made you successful : "When dealing with a customer
that's a pain in the arse, always quote double".  I know, that's not the
topic, but it's [OT] anyway, right?


Vitaliy wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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