21 August 2007

A bad idea


"Hey, we can get twice as much out of this candle by lighting the wick on the other end as well!"

Today I enabled the bizdev [jargon] team at my current employer to compose marketing documents designed to generate contract work in SharePoint Server 2007 (a.k.a. “MOSS”) and user experience. Why is this a bad idea?
  • There are two people on staff qualified to perform advanced SharePoint Server 2007 and user experience work; that is, one of each.
  • The MOSS guy is committed to a contract that keeps him 100% busy through the end of the year. This contract is likely to be renewed through at least next June, possibly longer.
  • There is an industry-wide shortage of qualified MOSS devs, so it is difficult to hire more people with those skills.
  • I'm the sole user experience/product design guy and my calendar is a wreck. I'm always double or triple committed and the slate of projects I saw headed for my plate the last time my boss and I spoke showed no real letup on into winter.
  • It has been made clear that no other product designers of any flavor will be hired unless there is a pressing business need. My being double or triple booked cannot be considered a pressing since the company only sometimes charges clients for product design services(!).
My principled stand was that it is foolhardy to promote services we cannot supply or support. Summarily overruled.

This is standard procedure here. In-demand practitioners are taxed with greater than 100% project time commitments while a backfill candidate is searched for and hired – however long that takes. In the meantime, don’t get sick or try to go on vacation. And do please make sure you get both jobs done. “People here want to work hard” is what I was told by way of excusing this employee-hostile policy.

I do like working hard at challenging and rewarding projects, but not into extremes and not at the expense of a healthy life. I have made it known that I won’t work beyond the reasonable expectation for what is possible for one – and only one – product designer. The MOSS guy will have to fight his own battle, I guess. Perhaps not responding to the query for ad copy was just that.

Will I be here long enough to tell the bosses, again, that I will not accept project work that exceeds one talented person’s capacity? I guess that depends on how aggressive our sales staff is. I am confident that despite my protestation, if we win a bid for user experience work there will be an insistence that I step up to greater than 100% commitment. Again.

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