Monday, February 11, 2008

Be careful with consultants

This goes for all software, but being I've been working with TFS for the past year, I thought it would be good to mention it on this blog.

In my last group, we implemented TFS by ourselves. That is, we did all the setup, migrations, training and ongoing support. We decided this was the best approach since the team was very technical and motivated to tackle a new configuration management tool. And for the most part, we were successful.

My new group took a different approach (before I got here) and hired out most of the TFS work. Everything from setup to customization has been done with the consultants taking the initial lead. We've been bumping heads a bit this past week because I take a slightly different view on how to implement a new product than they do. I think they have sold my new group on too many customizations.

I was a consultant for two years back in the early 2000s so I know a bit about the business. A consultant's number one goal is to stay billable. Meaning if you, as the customer, keep nodding your head, they will continue to do what you say and keep billing. If you're a consultant and reading this, don't get all bent out of shape. You are very necessary and we can't live without you, but there are times when a good consultant needs to help the customer say "no" to themselves.

We as customers get a bit too excited about all the possibilities TFS has, and forget that at the end of the day, everything costs money So when you say "hey we'd like to have check in policies for this and that", everything can be done, but it will cost you. And don't forget about the on-going maintenance costs.

So here is my suggestion. Start with the basics. That is, try to take what TFS has out of the box, then slowly start making the needed modifications with a well balanced team of consultants (if you need them) and full time employees. You'll be better off in the end.

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