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Gwen Britt's picture

Setting Expectations

blonde woman in red dress running with suitcase

As a consultant, I travel.  I travel a lot. I often travel to the same places, following a similar routine on each trip. I plan ahead. And, I always try to extend a gracious attitude towards those I meet (you never know who you’ll see again and/or need a favor from in the future). I find that things go smoothly for me when I plan ahead and am able to be gracious along the way. In the same vein, when beginning a new project, I plan. I make myself aware of the client’s budget and timeline so that their project goes smoothly and graciously.  (I am really into ‘smoothly’.)

About once a week, I find myself at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport with about an hour to spare prior to boarding. I like to eat my dinner during this hour so that I may avoid arriving home at midnight, ravenous.  No one likes to hear me cooking at midnight. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of it either. Each week I have been sampling one restaurant after the other, moving further and further away from my gate. I don’t know what’s going on at O’Hare, but they’ve consistently got the slowest food service in the United States. My hope is to one day find an efficient, friendly establishment in which I can reliably dine.

After many samplings and second chances, I decided to move away from my arm of the terminal and venture off to the other side. I found a promising chain that I shall refer to as “Habanero’s.”  I entered the establishment thinking that surely “Habanero’s” has some sort of protocol in place establishing guidelines as to turn-around time. I believe the average is 12 minutes from ordering to eating?  Anyway, just to play it safe, I ordered French fries and chicken fingers thinking this would be a pretty standard, and therefore quick order. I waited. And waited. Fifty-minutes later, my fries and chicken fingers arrived.  Thank goodness I didn’t order the soufflé.  I threw my credit card at a woman whom I believed to be my waitress (without all those tedious ‘checking ins’ how was I to know for sure?). I began shoveling food into my mouth as quickly as possible. The man next to me was horrified. He suggested that I ask for a doggy bag.  “HA!” I blurted in his face, “By the time I get the doggy bag, I will certainly have missed my plane. I’d be better off running through the airport with a handful of fries!”.  He got up, went to the back of the restaurant and returned with a box for my food so I could go. I couldn’t go, some harried lady still had my credit card.

My waitress finally returned with my credit card, then bent over my shoulder to make sure that I tipped her. I had intended on tipping her all along, “Habanero’s” appeared to be short staffed and poorly managed. However, once I felt her breathing down my neck, I contemplated not tipping her at all, I mean the audacity!  I caved, I tipped. I believe the total after tax, labor tax, hospitality tax and tip was somewhere around three thousand dollars. I could be slightly off. Airports are ridiculously overpriced; it may have been more. With the signing of the check, I grabbed my doggy bag and began running. 

As I ran through airport, wishing I had worn a sports bra, I started to realize how clients must feel when projects run late and are not on budget. In the best case scenario, even if you make it to your destination, the experience is so tainted that you can’t enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. In the worst case scenarios, you may miss your “flight” all together and incur further expense and loss of time.  Not to mention the fact that you may feel vulnerable in personal sense (potential loss of employment).  Or in my case, loss of personal dignity.

Lessons Learned

What lessons did I learn here?  As the customer, I should have let my server know that I had a hard deadline. One would think that being in an airport this “hard deadline” would be implied, but empirically, this was not the case. It needed to be said, perhaps some sort of signed document would be in order. As a consultant, it’s imperative that I ask if there is a deadline before the project even begins.  Knowing this deadline can help me to alert the customer if things are running late.  All of this communication can help us stay on time and on budget or help us adjust in a timely manner if things are not going as planned.

Whether you are the client or vendor, protect yourself and articulate your position.  Don’t make yourself vulnerable, plan ahead, and always wear your sports bra. For more information on Dynamics NAV project planning, please visit our resource center. And, please contact us to talk to an ArcherPoint NAV consultant who excels at communication.





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