You know, I am constantly amazed by the number of consultants / service providers out in the wild who don’t seem to understand the concept of servicing the customer – and providing value with that service.

Perfect example – we acquired a new client a few months ago, and basically kept their archaic network functioning while we were planning to upgrade to SBS2003.  Just how archaic was this LAN?  A mix of Win95 & Win98 PCs (newest hardware was a Gateway w/ a Celeron 600) – and there were multiple Pentium 100’s still in use).  They had a Novell server (NetWare 3.12) – but apparently no one really knew how it should be used – their accounting data was on the server, but otherwise it was a P2P setup, with each user storing their files on their local HD (and sharing their entire C: drive!) . . . We took about 3 days to do the install, which consisted of installing SBS2k3 Premium (incl. ISA & SQL) on the new server, standard configuration (creating accounts, configuring backup, configuring monitoring, etc.), extended configuration (creating required security groups & additional shares, customizing logon scripts (to map drives based on security group membership), and configuring Group Policies (deploying Office 2003 Pro & Firewall Client via GPOs, configuring folder redirection, etc.) installing & configuring A/V (Trend C/S/M for SMB), and migrating each user’s data & profile from their old PC to the new server / PC (and considering this is a mechanical engineering firm (AutoCAD), there was A LOT of data to transfer :^).  

3 days – done.  Now, this client was using a severely archaic accounting system (DOS-based from 1986 – I shit you not!  I’ve got a stack of 5.25” floppies complete with copyright dates to prove it).  But they did previously use someone who extended the functionality by using extensively customized Excel spreadsheets that provided custom reports (e.g. job costing, etc.).  So, the client decides to upgrade the accounting app to the most recent version (only because the old app would not run on XP).  They enlist the services of a partner who specializes in that accounting app to assist with their migration.  As of this morning, the migration is not yet completed, and the customer is – well, let’s just say that they’re not very pleased with the accounting partner.

Why?  Well – the majority of it can be boiled down to a lack of communication.  The vendor did not do a full analysis of the client’s customized spreadsheets (that they use on a daily basis to run the business) – therefore, when they started the conversion, only then did they realize the extent of the customizations they have.  Second – for any of you that are familiar with accounting – you can imagine the complexity of moving accounting tasks from one system to another – you basically have a cut-off date where you stop entering data into the old, that data is moved to the new, and you start using the new.  The vendor provided only a matter of hours notice to the customer on when the cut off was happening (we’re going live tomorrow morning) – and in the aftermath,