Time to put my foot down (?)

Once again a client has rejected the idea of automating data collection in Excel by using a “Submit” button on the file and some VBA code to push the data into a Database in a single point on the corporate network, in favour of emailing the files around becuase “I understand how that works”.  Then I get the email saying “Now that I’m getting files back I’m having trouble copying and pasting them into the target program I need the data in (??)  Can you help me with that?” (??)

Also in the past week another client (who uses an automated app I wrote 3 years ago every day without fail) also asked for just a template so they can “Copy and Paste” the data manually from emailed spreadsheets as well – while I had suggested this be locked down and automated as well. 

This is the 5th time this has happened to me in the last year.  That’s 5 apps that could have been slick, cost-effective, efficient and  productive for the clients are instead relying on manual operaton, mean more work for them and are massively exposed to error and failure at critical times.  All that could have been made simple and efficient by implementing just a little bit of automation and a little bit of network discipline.

But as Simon Murphy recently alluded to on his Blog(http://smurfonspreadsheets.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/oh-the-irony/),  it looks like the demand for our sevices MIGHT be going up, so we’d better think about putting our feet down and insisting that clients use the technology the way it should be used as we have learned through our experience and expertise.

I know I am going to start refusing to do “half-assed” solutions just because I need the business or because I covet a potentially big new client.  I know the customer’s always right, but do plumbers and electricians let the customer tell them how to do their job?  I hope not.  So we shouldn’t either.


About Biggus Dickus

Dick is a consultant in London, ON Canada who specializes in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Office Development.
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4 Responses to Time to put my foot down (?)

  1. Simon says:

    Its so frustrating watching people misuse tech and waste time and effort, I know just where you are coming from Dick.

    I’m not convinced I see much technological progress from customers. Mainly they seem stuck in 1997. This is especially apparent in the ‘data gathering app’. (an emailed spreadsheet of course). Its sad there has been so much dev in this area, and there are so many way to do this better, but people like what they know, or think they know.

    There is a gaping void better SAP type collaboration implementations and emailed spreadsheets. But its not a tech gap, its a customer interest gap. dunno why, do you?

  2. Harlan Grove says:

    You could always BS your clients and tell them that you’re a member of a professional society which prohibits its members from providing any support for copy & paste operations when direct database transfers would be safer, cheaper, quicker and (WTH?) smarter. So you’re banned from providing clients slow, fragile, expensive and stupid functionality.

    And if they claim they understand e-mail, ask them whether that means they understand how its routed through the internet or whether that means they understand the structure of their Outlook PST files.

  3. AlexJ says:

    had you considered something like ‘packaging’ the server back end approach and pricing it so that the client sees the savings up front? Or maybe include a demo of the better version in an early prototype so that the perception is that “its already available so why go back”?

    I guess the issue is about willingness to adopt levels of technology which are not understood. So make them invisible?

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      “Or maybe include a demo of the better version in an early prototype so that the perception is that “its already available so why go back”? ”

      I actually do “bake” the code into the app anyway for that exact reason – because they usually DO come back for the full-meal-deal later anyway.

      That’s it willingness to adopt technologies which are not understood. Frightening that this would be a concern in today’s world, especially when the core software vendor for the software that I am using is the largest software company in the world :-).. Sucks


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