A few years ago, I was asked to help deliver a new SAP Netweaver BW system for a lawn and snow maintenance & manufacturing company.
I had worked with the Project Lead for another customer so she picked me up when she learned about my upcoming availability. The Project Sponsor, on the other hand, jokingly made references to my “high bill-rate” enough times to give me pause.
This was my first interaction with the Project Sponsor so there was trust to be earned with him.
While I had prior experience from having delivered a similar reporting solution, the Project Sponsor’s comments had me question my value when compared to two other resources on the team. Did my parent company over-promise on my abilities? Can these other resources deliver a higher value to the customer at a lower cost?
The two other resources had joined the project about a month before I was available. They had a head start in understanding the business requirements and they seem to be knowledgeable about the technology. The Project Sponsor liked the two resources but he seemed to like ribbing me about my high price even more.
Early Warnings Signals
Over the course of several weeks, however, little red flags started to pop up.
Concepts and solutions presented by one of the two resources did not make sense to either the Project Lead or myself. The second resource seemed to have a better grasp of the requirements and technically more competent but he was relatively quiet in his communication. I had trouble gauging either of their expertise.
The concerns and red flags grew as we neared the project completion date. Testing for most of the components were in the final stages. However, the development assigned to one of the two resources had stalled. He had trouble understanding the concepts and would resist assistance.
He also had a tendency to raise his voice when his designs were questioned. That’s another red flag that I’ve learned to quickly pick up since it has been a consistent indicator of trouble down the line.
The Project Lead made the decision to let him go and assign the work to me. She said, “Hau, you’re almost done with your section of the project and you’ve done this part before. Can you take a look at the issues and get us back on track?”
The Value of Experience
So I devoted 8 hours on a Saturday and rebuilt his solution.
The following week, I mentioned to the Project Sponsor “Hey, I finished in 8 hours what your guy could not deliver in 120 hours! What do you think?”
I was beaming. He was not enthused. This was earlier in my consulting career so I had a few things to learn about professional communication. People do not like being told that they were wrong.
On paper, my resume was similar to the other two resources. However, the Project Lead and I had worked together for another manufacturing company and she vouched for my expertise. That’s how I got the job.
No one could vouch for the experience of the other two resources. From what I gathered, they were “cheaper”.
I believe there’s an incredible story hidden in every team. The way I share the lessons in these stories is through conversation and data. I just happen to build the analytics that asks the next question.