Sunday, June 21, 2009

Swimming with Sharks

Dealing with business people can be frustrating, especially when they have their minds fixated dogmatically upon a fixed price and that elusive single solution. As noted by the aphorism, teaching pigs to sing just wastes your time and annoys the pig.

Why would a client seek a fixed-price contract with a vendor, when it is clear that:
  • the vendor offers to deliver less quality and value than is obviously available on the market, and/or

  • the vendor arranged the contract such that the client retains no ownership over the assets that were developed and

  • availability of the vendor to perform at a certain level of support or maintenance is not stipulated anywhere and

  • the costs associated with future enhancements and stabilizing maintenance are not fully under the client's discretion but are prejudiced by lack of disclosure of key information, that is, the vendor takes no fiduciary responsibility

Individually, the answer might be "ignorance", and the solution would be for the client to exercise due diligence. We should also understand that clients are vendors themselves, and may also use contracts as a weapon to gain advantage. A client who acts in a predatory manner should not be surprised to learn they are swimming with sharks. It is predatory to use a fixed-price contract as a way to avoid having to think about requirements or assume any of the risks associated with a development. A client with this strategy should not be surprised when at the very end of the process the strategy has worked against them. Sharks tend to swim with sharks.

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