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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Is it something I said?

My work life has been dominated, for the last month or so at level 7, and for the last week at level 11, by a specific proposal we are putting to our client.  This proposal has an element of Cloud in it, so we are ticking all the right boxes with respect to being "on message" with our strategy.  We learnt last Friday, however, that there were some boxes we were not ticking.  It turns out that there is a requirement for every Cloud solution to go through a Cloud Review Board call.  Talk about learning on the job.  This translated in to hasty arrangements made to book a slot, and some time spent completing a checklist and a deck* of slides.  This on top of a mid-week "oh blast" moment when I realised I had been focussing on the commercial end of the deal, and ignoring the technical end, and was up at 4am writing a detailed solution document.  I do not believe that anyone is looking forward to Christmas more than me.

Anyway, all's well that ends well.  All reviews passed with mostly flying colours**, proposal ready for presentation, client meeting booked.  What could possibly go wrong.

Before I continue, I should just add that this deal is a big deal for us on the account, and for Starfleet in general, since our signings are thin this quarter, and this represents a healthy chunk of the quarterly target.  The fact that it is also Cloud shaped is the icing on the cake.  What does this all mean?  Well, it means that everyone and their dog, and their master, and their master's dog, are interested in the progress of the deal, and eagerly awaiting the chink-chink sound of a signing and money in the door, or at least on the spreadsheet.

Back to the story.  We presented to the client, and passed all the tests set us from the previous meeting.  Both sides talked of the need to sign this year, and as we were starting to get that warm glow that we are in the home straight, a couple of curved  balls*** were casually tossed our way, that they wanted two elements of scope included in the proposal, both of which were identified and agreed as OUT OF SCOPE TWO MONTHS AGO.

This requires some thinking, some re-engineering the solution and cost elements, and ultimately going back to the drawing board to, if not the start, at least half way.  And this, you will not be surprised to hear, means that we will need a fair chunk of time to understand the art of the possible, entering again new ground for which we will need to look all over Starfleet for help, advice or similar solutions to our problems.

The chance of signing this year is therefore all but zero.  There is a wisdom in our industry that the way to handle Starfleet is to delay a decision until the end of the month, quarter or year, play the game of "who blinks first", and most of the time, Starfleet will drop their trousers, and their price, just to secure the deal.  What is interesting in this case is that, firstly, we are not totally sure whether our client is playing this game, but if they are, then secondly, our leader is very clear that we will not be doing that.  He is more interested in getting it right than getting it signed this year, for which my colleague and I are very grateful, since it gives us a chance to craft something of quality, not something of speed.

I will let you know how it goes.

On the home front, not much going on this week, but away to Brad and Angelina's for the weekend, to celebrate Angelina's birthday.  Should be fun, and good to see everyone.

* not sure if its origin is American, but we all seem to talk about slide decks, or sometimes slide packs.  Assuredly, our organisation are dabbling with death by Powerpoint to dangerous levels

** One bit that was nice was that as we were finishing our Cloud presentation, I got a ping from an old chum

*** presumably a baseball analogy, so another Americanism