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comment by goobster
goobster  ·  131 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 12, 2021

Well... "protects me" in as much as anyone can be "protected" in a job. I don't hold compromising photos of the CEO, or anything.

But I am the one guy in the company who can do the work necessary to maintain the clients where about 70% of our revenues come from. (Government contracts.) Yeah, they could hire someone else to do the writing I do, but then they'd need at least three tech people, two people from the Installations/Training teams, a lead salesperson/account manager, and sales administrator to do every one of the projects I work on.

And I have 7 in the hopper right now, all that must be finished and submitted by the end of next week.

If I bunked off today, they could do two of those projects, max.

I kinda see myself as the spine, and my collaborators as the ribs. Each of them does an important job (less important as you go down), but none of them work with each other, and without me, they can't communicate or replace the work I do.

In the end, yeah, I'm a glorified specialist writer. But not one that is easily replaced, and one that has several other departments invested in ensuring my success.

Right now I'm just watching my ETH and wondering how long I need to go before I just pull up stakes and retire. :-)

kleinbl00  ·  131 days ago  ·  link  ·  

They can always pivot to something easier/stupider/cheaper/whatever.

    Yeah, they could hire someone else to do the writing I do, but then they'd need at least three tech people, two people from the Installations/Training teams, a lead salesperson/account manager, and sales administrator to do every one of the projects I work on.

To do it right, yeah. You can do it wrong for a long time before people catch on. 'nuther Playnetwork story:

We'd sold Jack in the Box on our ability to execute "Jack TV" - whereby there were video monitors that played inane bullshit during the lunch and dinner rush. But they only had about 20 minutes worth of inane bullshit and they'd discovered that they couldn't afford to lock down the bullshit effectively enough to keep Jack in the Box employees from unplugging the DVD player after about four hours of inane bullshit. So our video sales flak - I had to clean up a lot of his bullshit - pitched all this stuff on the basis that the audio would magically switch from the bullshit DVD player to our bullshit music player on a schedule without the first clue how to do this.

You did this with a dayparting DVD player, which cost a mere $1800 at the time. Then you ran it through an amp with a contact closure control, which cost a mere $400. Museum kiosks do this all the time, it's just nobody had thought to ask the engineering department before putting together a bid. As a consequence there was $300 for the DVD player and amp.

- But it was six months between signing the contract and having to do anything.

So now it lands on my desk and the project manager decides to just... you know, shine on the fact that we didn't do the dayparting.

- It took three months for Jack in the Box Corporate to bother complaining.

So now there are 25 Jack in the Boxes stretched across Texas with employees in open rebellion because who wants to listen to 18 minutes of Jack in the Box commercials all day long. Which means a truck roll to "fix" everything which meant a $400 amplifier had to go in along with a $30 digital thermostat I'd tortured into working, written up the instructions on, gotten forged into our inventory system as a "McGyver 1000" with a vendor of "Home Depot" and "deployed" to these toothless yokels living in a motorhome.

- Because the engineering overage came out of the project manager's monthly profit/loss statement so she went as cheap as she possibly could.

- But the sales guy didn't care because we'd crossed the fiscal year so the project profits weren't going to be actualized for another ten months.

So the project manager is so stoked at how adequately these toothless yokels executed their "string lamp cord between a thermostat timer and a contact closure control" contract, on top of their "why bother hooking up three component cables when one composite cable sort of works" work ethic that she no-shit offered them the contract for Washington and Oregon, too. Ye Olde MacGyver 1000 has now bought every Home Depot in a 100-mile radius out of thermostat timers; I had gophers smurfing them from Cle Elum to Silverdale. I switch over to a connector that's harder to fuck up but requires special pliers; the contractor legit steals them to sell to other contractors and uses Monoprice bullshit on my bid (I see this because they literally come by the office so I can show them how to terminate cable). But it's been a year by now and nobody has been punished for their tomfoolery. I'm spending a good 20 hours a week supporting a project that would be over and done with if it were bid properly. But everyone is totally stoked -

- until one of the contractors I like from my real world back where low voltage guys are bonded and insured

- gets breakfast at Jack In The Box, sees the toothless yokels and asks them where they're from

- finds out they're from Texas and didn't even know they needed a license in WA

- complains to the county, who complains to the state

- Who shuts down ALL construction at ALL Jack in the Boxes in the middle of their brand refresh to find out what sort of shenanigans is going on.

Somehow the project manager tries to pin this on me. I show everyone the email where I said we needed new contractors. Jack in the Box drops us like a hot rock - but it's been a year with no consequences.

And the sales guy isn't fired for another thirteen months, when an entire fiscal year's worth of nonsense becomes clear.

goobster  ·  131 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Fortunately, in my business, incumbency is a powerful thing. It'll cost a school around a quarter million dollars to remove our hardware, install another vendor, configure their software platform, and train up their team on the new system. All to get essentially the same set of features with a slightly different UI on top.

Not many schools (or other government agencies) can make a case for that choice.

And their purchasing processes are highly structured and regulated. And audited. It turns out that being a developer and project manager in the past helps me to ensure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed in this complex and confusing system.

Can others do it? Sure.

Is there anyone else who can do it AND who knows our products (hardware and software) inside and out? And how our security infrastructure is built? And how our third-party installers work on-site to get our equipment installed? And how to integrate our systems with around 20 or so of the other common tools in use in the market?

Yes... someone knows each of these things. But I'm the only one that knows ALL of them, and can stitch them all together into a good story that wins business.

So yeah, I can be replaced. But it takes a lot of work by a lot of people who already have full-time jobs, and many of them don't have the skills/focus to attend to the all-important details like I do.

I have no illusion that my job could end literally any day. All I need to do is make one tiny error in one part of one document and either lose a customer, commit the company to legally or fiscally disastrous terms, or promise features/functions that don't exist, and I will instantly be The Fall Guy.

I am absolutely sure that, the day I am fired, my CEO will have a negotiation with some Purchasing Manager from a State-owned Utility, or huge school district, and the conversation will include the phrase, "... I apologize for that error, and the employee responsible for making it has been fired."

Either that or I retire. That's how this job ends.