Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A list of things technology vendors must never screw up

  1. Communication
That's it. Everything else is forgivable, as long as you tell me about it--see what I just did there? All of our communication should specify precisely what, when, how, and why. What are you doing? When are you doing it (or when are you updating me next)? How are you going to do it? Why are we doing this in the first place? I should be able to expect this from you, and you should be demanding it from me.

Here are some examples:
  1. If you're going to shut down my servers, you need to either be on the phone with me saying, "OK, I'm shutting this down now. Is that alright?" or you need to be staring intently and gravely at a ticket that says, "Yes, you may shut down that server on [date] at [time]," and have a calendar and clock nearby that are set correctly and correspond to [date] and [time]. If any of the above criteria aren't met, don't shut down my effing servers! I'm looking at you, Rackspace.
  2. If I can't access my servers but they're not *down* per se, that's still an emergency. I'm opening tickets, calling, and e-mailing you and you're taking your sweet time to get back to me, and even then you just say, "We're working on a new release of our software, so all our techs are busy. But they'll get to your issue as soon as they can." Nope, that doesn't work. But lucky for you, Rightscale, it's an easy fix. You should have said, "Hey, sorry this is taking so long. We're in the middle of a release of our software. I'll go and find out exactly when someone can get to your issue and call you back right away." You don't even have to do anything faster than you would have, just freaking tell me!
This is pretty simple, but if I had to give the tech industry a grade on it right now, it would be a F---. Fail. Whale.

Here's the most frustrating part: My clients would say that I'm the pot calling the kettle black. They want better communication from me when something is down or inaccessible. But usually the reason I can't give them that is I'm spending all of my time wrestling with you, the vendor, to get some kind of real information. If you were communicating with me, I could be passing that along to my clients and we could all get back to actually fixing the problem. Wouldn't that be nice?

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