Skip to main content

Update: A Success with Vendor Spam

Photo: Chris Garrity - www.flickr.comphotosgarritylex4479671291

How I'm managing vendor e-mails and phone calls...
I’m posting this to suggest that my peers may want to try it, also!

For the past few months, I’ve been setting aside Thursday afternoons from 4-5 to take vendor phone calls.  This was my response to the problem I wrote about as "Thank You for Your Sales Call/e-mail... Here's Why I Didn't Respond".

*********************************************************************************************
Disclaimer: All of the ideas expressed in this article are my personal statements and opinions, and do not reflect the opinions/statements of the City of Urbana.
*********************************************************************************************

Setting aside this one hour has proved to be a success on several levels:

  • I feel zero guilt about ignoring the tsunami of incoming phone calls and e-mails.  (Note #1) What led me to write the first blog were my mixed emotions about the waste of human effort vendors were expending - and that I was simply deleting. Now, I mark the senders as “junk” and then they receive an e-mail response explaining that they can contact me during the specific time. Also, my outgoing voicemail message also tells them about the one-hour window, so I delete all vendor phone messages without hesitation.  My conscience is now clean!
  • When I do talk to a vendor, I give them up to 30 minutes to make their pitch. (30 minutes if the vendors schedule with me. If someone simply calls me on Thursdays, I’ll hang on the line only as long as they can hold my interest.)   It’s led to better conversations, and a more meaningful two-way discussion. As I alluded to in my blog, if the real goal of these calls and e-mails is communication, then they weren’t succeeding. But you can get a lot of information in 30 minutes - on both sides!
  • The vendors seem happy about this process. First of all, it gives them a chance to actually talk to me, which they weren't getting before. Also, it gives the good ones a chance to shine. The bad ones are still reading their scripts, but a rep who really knows their product can make an effective pitch in 30 minutes.
  • I feel in control of my schedule; it lets me work the other 39 hours of the week without interruption from vendors.  (Note #2)  When I do miss a Thursday afternoon call (because I’m on a call with another vendor or for other reasons), I can call them back at a time of my choosing. I’m happy because I’m not being interrupted, and they’re happy because they’re not getting a crabby person on my end of the phone!

Notes

Note #1: The tsunami has only gotten worse during the pandemic with “use our service for free…”  offers.  As I’ve had to explain to many people: there’s still an implementation, there’s still user support, and at the end of the free offer you either need to extricate yourself or start paying. So, nothing is "free” – everything has a cost in time and effort. (Credit here to my Dad... who always said "there's no such thing as a free lunch"!)

Note #2: Another pandemic observation: working without interruptions from my co-workers has been a huge productivity boost. My current employer’s culture has a drop-in mentality and I try to oblige when people come to see me, even though it can be disruptive when I’m deep into a task.  Managing the balance between getting work done and being social is hard for me, but it's been much easier working from home. Maybe some day this will become another blog post…

Popular posts from this blog

The Tectonic Speed of Government, Part 1: Procurement

This post is my reaction to conversations about how hard it is to create change in government, and how government projects (and IT projects in particular) take so long from genesis to completion. This is part 1, about procurement; part 2 will address project implementations. PS - there was a surprise Part 3 of this series later!

Warning: what follows is an “inside baseball” discussion of government IT procurement. I’m not trying to dissuade you from reading it, but if you’re not enmeshed in this world you might want to consider reading my articles on lighter topics like organizing your electronic life, the greatness of Abbey Road, or the story behind The Room.

If you ARE enmeshed in this topic, then please don’t overlook my call to action at the end! Changing the process will take a group effort, and I’m hoping to get feedback on my scheme to create a library of reusable software specifications.

By the way, this post’s first title was “The Glacial Speed of Government” but that title i…

How To Videos: Lucity Queries with Microsoft SQL Server and Excel

What follows is not a blog, but some suggestions on using Microsoft SQL Server "Views" to query your Lucity data using Excel.   This information is intended to assist Lucity software users, and not for any nefarious purposes.

I recommend watching the videos in Full Screen view and with HD resolution.  They're not as blurry as they look on this page!!  Each of these about two minutes long, but the original actions only took 50 seconds each.  (After recording them, I decided to slow them down to make them more watchable.)
1. How to create a SQL Server "View".  The video shows how to create a new View from the core Work Order table.  (WKORDER - see the data dictionary here.)  The video first shows the simple method of creating a view with all fields, then shows the more effective method of including only needed fields, and re-labeling them with their on-screen names.

Music: "A View to a Kill" - Duran Duran


2. How to Connect to the View with ExcelWith a view …

Why the Tectonic Speed of Government?

The original name was "The Glacial Speed of Government” but that title is both cliché and inaccurate, as today it implies a faster pace than it used to. I decided that “Tectonic Speed” is more accurate because you can push very hard, but change in government shows tremendous resistance.  However, when change happens it can occur in significant outbursts - and in those moments, there is great opportunity!

Part 1Part 2  |  Part 3  | Part 4 | Wait there's a Video?!

The Tectonic Speed of Government, Part 3: It’s Never Over

Recently, I wrote two posts discussing why IT Projects take a long time: one on the Procurement Process and one about Project Implementations.  They were written during a time of three simultaneous projects, and they were therapy for me to exorcise some complaints... and make suggestions for others. From the start, I planned those as two topics – and I thought they'd finish the series.

But this third part was a surprise, and the greatest lesson I learned from those projects.
*********************************************************************************************
Disclaimer:All of the ideas expressed in this article are my personal statements and opinions, and do not reflect the opinions/statements of the City of Urbana.
*********************************************************************************************
“It ain’t over till it’s over” - Yogi Berra on baseball, not IT projects.Trick Question: When is a software project over?

Answer: Never. 

By “over” I mean the soft…

Tectonic Speed of Government, Part 2: Why do Government IT Projects Take So Long?

This is part two of my series on why government IT projects take so long. Part one complained that the Purchasing process is tough to navigate because methodically describing what you want to buy - and documenting your decision making - takes effort. That blog helped me vent some frustrations about parts of my job, although I admit that it was a little dry. (But please, this is Government Procurement.)

With part two I’m on my home turf: the process that starts with the purchase of an IT tool and ends with its everyday use by people. If the process was successful, users are doing their jobs better than they did before. (A less successful outcome that also occurs: it’s harder to do their jobs, but at least their managers have better data.) This process, which I’ll refer to as the “Implementation” or “Project,” can take months or years for any organization - let alone a government.My first section explains why government IT projects take a long time, while the other three suggest str…