Wrestling With Pigs

Wrestling with pigs, Emerging from Hell

I’m about to emerge from nine months in hell. I’m not out yet – there’s still work to be done – but I’m at least back in control of this aspect of my destiny.

It was a simple thing, really; all I wanted to do was fix some issues with this blog site design. The original designer tinkered with some code, which made updates impossible and crashes common.

So I was recommended to another fired-up firm who would definitely be able to help me. (I won’t blast them publicly here – that’s not my style. I will gladly steer you clear of disaster upon request. My good friend who recommended me to this firm has also pulled all of his work from this firm for similar – and worse – problems. ‘Nuff said.)

To put things in context and give you the very short version of the story, I was promised up front they could fix my problems in three DAYS. Nine MONTHS later, my site still isn’t completed as promised. As they were hosting my site, I’ve been unable to take back control of it and get someone competent to do the job as promised. (Not a big ask, really). I finally have the hosting back where I control the site and am on the road to resolution.

It’s been like my car was in the shop and the mechanic said the car was running fine when it wasn’t yet he held the keys to the car preventing me from taking it to another shop. Incredibly frustrating. This isn’t a bitch session – that’s already been covered by several friends who tolerated me as I vented my frustration on their willing ears. Drop a coin in the bank to pay for their patience with me!

With every bad experience, there are lessons to be learned. Here are the ones I take away for me, sadly some of them “once again”:

Your team is critical. Surround yourself with the best people you can find. Don’t settle for second best. Your team has to “get it”; they must share the passion/vision/sense of urgency with you or there are going to be big problems.

Cherish experience; it speaks louder than promises. Like the miracle cures sold on late-night television, promises only work when there’s substance behind them. Thoroughly check those you rely on – contractors, partners, suppliers – check their experience and see what their track record suggests regarding their reliability and integrity versus their happy smiles and smoke-blowing.

“If it sounds too good to be true How I hate to have been caught by this one. My first redesign took 30 days. Maybe that was too long but the three-day promise sounded both great and a bit incredible at the same time. Well, it was incredible. Silly me for believing the enthusiasm put forth by the designer versus questioning the logic behind such a short delivery time.

Give folks a chance but not more than one. Ok, maybe two. But no more. I had email after email and phone call after phone call with apologies and excuses for mistakes made. Once was enough, after that I should have walked.

Don’t give up control of mission-critical elements. In this case, no access to my hosting was the equivalent of being held hostage. I’ve been waiting for two months for my site to be moved to my host. For two months, I’ve been powerless to move ahead. Run the numbers on the cost of lost opportunity and lost time. And stress.

Work for mutual resolution but bring in the big guns when you need to. At the “end” (two months ago!), we agreed to disagree on what constituted a working blog site. As the customer, I was in the right but the vendor maintained his cockiness to the very end blaming everything but the face in the mirror for the causes of the problems. Only when I copied my attorney on my final email a week ago (see the two month wait in the previous bullet) did the vendor finally spring into action and get the site moved. I should have played this very real card months earlier. And I was fully prepared to go to court – idle threats have no place in my world.

In short: Don’t wrestle with pigs. They enjoy it and you only get dirty.

Watch this space for a new design – one that will work the way it should!