Fresh Air And Diarrhea
Believe it or not, we managed to knock out four database applications that have been sitting on our to do list for weeks. One database was for an inventory management system, another database was for a real estate management company, another database was for a roofing company, and the fourth database was for a retailer down in the Bahamas. One was extremely late being months overdue, two were just a week overdue, and one was delivered right on schedule. It has been a very busy time.
We weren’t able to finish a couple of databases. One, the customer was so impressed with the trial copies we’ve been sending that we’ve been given all the time we need to complete the rest of the project. That customer’s our top priority for the next week or so. But another customer acted like such an ass we made a rather abrupt decision to terminate the project. The customer tried to come back and explain that she didn’t really mean it when she said that we met none of our primary objectives and had been wasting her time and that she didn’t appreciate the slow progress we’re making. That was unfortunate because we meant it when we told this client to go to hell.
The woman hired us in the second week of December to develop a database. Speed was essential and so we wasted little time getting started on her project. We spent a week developing table structures and the data input screens necessary to maintain the supporting data and sent our client the table structure as proof of us working hard. Four days later we sent the client an update with all the forms necessary to handle the rest of their data inputs. But the customer wanted her data reports. She had a single minded focus on the report objects. She didn’t reply to the email we sent with an updated version of the software. We figured she skipped town early for the holidays.
On Saturday, New Year’s Day, she suddenly reappeared more than two weeks later, blasting us for not having the software completed. She was upset that our software updates come with a hardcoded expiration date that allows the software to work for only a few days. The expiration date is meant as a mechanism to get our customers to try the software as soon as they get it and give us the appropriate feedback for the next phase of the project. It also keeps our customers from utilizing the software before it is ready or before it is paid for. Ms. Customer told us that she would not accept another database update with an expiration date. We agreed. In fact, she wouldn’t be getting any database updates from now on, at least not from us.
All the signs are that this is the type of customer that is quick to point fingers and make demands without any consideration for what’s reasonable or for what’s fair. A customer that claims speed is of the essence and then disappears in the middle of the project and suddenly returns angry that things weren’t finished as agreed is about as welcome as a diarrhea. Next thing you know you’ll be paying out the ass and the shit just won’t stop.
So now we only have one outstanding project to work on. We have a rather lite work load for a change. After weeks, months even, of juggling multiple database projects and drowning in source code, it’s nice to be able to come up for a little fresh air and take a breather.
That is, it’s nice until we realized we have to find more projects to work on. The number of people who wanted work done dried up considerably in the month of December. We’re hoping that a lot of companies and people decided to put their projects on hold until after the first of the year. Today’s the third and so far we haven’t seen a change in the market. And there’s little doubt that our competitors are going to be looking for work as well. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that things are going to be tight for a little while. The competition is going to be pretty fierce for the next month or so.
It looks like that breath of fresh are was good while it lasted. It’s time to take a deep breath and go back to work to find our next paycheck. Hopefully it won’t be too long. Else, we’re likely to get desperate enough to welcome the type of customer that reminds you of a bad case of diarrhea.
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