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292 posts

Ultimate Geek
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# 105985 16-Jul-2012 10:38
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Geekzone people,

I am interested to gain a little insite from those who are in the industry as soloist and in particular how you may tackle the "What happens if you get hit by a bus" line that customers raise on the odd occasion.

As a soloist the ability to be nimble, dynamic and provide personal service for customers is to their advantage however trying to complete their every request includes helping provide the level of assurance they want.

Depending on the general situation and topic I have utilised a number of  solutions. If its software development, provide the ability for escrow style agreements. For general system administration provide full documentation. If its ongoing contracting agreements have trusted agreements with third parties.

Any other ideas on how to respond to this style of question ?



-edit ... fixing typos ...

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Uber Geek
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  # 656341 16-Jul-2012 10:48
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Hi There!

I think start by not trying to invalidate the customers concerns, they are valid. If you do get hit by a Bus, they are going to be disadvantaged.

I would point out the benefits of the Soloist and then mention you keep up to date information on their site where they can access it, and talk about using industry standard configurations that make it easier for someone else come along and help.

Consider getting/having a contractor available if you are needing to be away. Partner with another small business that you can call on in an emergency.

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Uber Geek
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  # 656346 16-Jul-2012 10:55
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networkn: I think start by not trying to invalidate the customers concerns, they are valid.

+1 to this, it's spot on. 

Just recently I've been involved with picking up the pieces where custom solutions have been implemented, then the developer has moved on.  This has left us with propriety setups, with no future development plan in place and which are not immediately transferable easily to modern platforms, such as newer SQL/Exchange environments or VM housing etc.

Personally I'd be accepting that what you develop is good for now, but will need work in the future, so what are you going to be able to offer to assist with this?  Good documentation would help for instance, or engage a partner to provide that fall back position when you get hit by the bus etc.


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Uber Geek
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  # 656357 16-Jul-2012 11:13
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There are ways to reduce this risk.

Solid documentation, of which you keep a copy and allow the customers to keep a copy.  This means if something does happen to you, someone else can pick up easily.  The other part of this is to follow industry standard practice wherever practical so that someone new could come in and take over easily - ie. don't implement something so complex and custom that nobody else could hope to understand it.

It wouldn't hurt to have an agreement with a larger contractor, so they can step in and provide services to your clients on your behalf in the case you can't.

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Ultimate Geek
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  # 661097 24-Jul-2012 15:59
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If you use open source, make sure you push that angle :-)

They'll be probably even less tied down to you with open source than with a larger propriety company!

BoJo for PMUK?
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  # 661100 24-Jul-2012 16:04
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'Key Man' insurance? (Not meant to be a joke).

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Uber Geek
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  # 661105 24-Jul-2012 16:09
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dman: If you use open source, make sure you push that angle :-)

They'll be probably even less tied down to you with open source than with a larger propriety company!

I'm sorry I couldn't disagree more. There are less open source experienced IT people than MS trained people. This puts them at a greater risk.

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Uber Geek
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  # 661118 24-Jul-2012 16:37
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Document _everything_.

Reverse engineering the last guys work is a massive waste of time.


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Ultimate Geek
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  # 661373 24-Jul-2012 23:27
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I think your current response is pretty much spot on.

Normally I imagine you are trying to convince non technical (management) types before entering into a contract with them, so those two things you say - you provide full documentation of your work and you have a secondary support agreement in place with a third party organisation that will support your clients should you get hit by the proverbial bus - should be enough.

Obviously not everyone will opt for the second option given the additional monthly expense you will no doubt be charging, but just by giving the option as part of your answer will give the people you are speaking to peace of mind.

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