It Pays to Know Where You Sit

By Charles Falk

What is a good seat in this fast-moving business environment? Traditionally, our first thought would be the cozy corner office far away from those bright, naked cubicles by reception. But this is the 21st century and peace of mind is dictated more by solving problems and being productive than creature comforts like a quiet environment or a pleasant view—or even the freedom of a virtual office. No, the “good seat” in business is about managing technology and personnel needs. And that can be done from either side of the hypothetical desk.

Whether you are performing the job or having someone perform it for you does not matter. The important thing is understanding the big picture of what it takes to get the job done. Make sure you have a contract that clearly defines the scope of work, the infrastructure necessary for success, and the procedures for resolving problems. Not understanding the business model and its processes will put you in a no?win situation. Does the upgrade require new hardware or software? What does the maintenance phase look like? Who has control over the data? Will the budget be enough to see the project from start to finish? You don’t want to go in half?assed because cutting corners simply won’t get the job done. No, you are going to need to be fully assed to sit in that seat over the long haul.

What’s more, the technical side of the equation is just one part of the process. Remember that contract? Make sure it also addresses roles and responsibilities. Relationships are the key to success—or failure. Who are the people involved in the project from beginning to end? What kinds of access and control will they have? What are they supposed to do and how will they be held accountable? Does everyone truly contribute or are there any gatekeepers with the potential to slow things down with pointless procedures that are more displays of authority than productive practices? Ultimately you want qualified, empowered, and responsive people who are committed to moving the project forward. But don’t think for a minute that everything will be simple—there’s a reason they call it a job. At the end of the day you need to know what and who it’s going to take to get the job done. It definitely pays to know where you sit.