In yesterday’s blog, I talked about the fact that when customers get resources that are a result of too many layers of subbing their subcontracts that they don’t get the resources they planned: “Subcontracting Too Many Times” As a result of that post, I’ve gotten a few comments in LinkedIn but also received direct e-mail from people making note of this very issue. Since I’ve had a number of people respond to make note of this, today, I’m going to make a few more points.

Note to Customers
Neither I nor any of the people commenting on my post have said that subcontracting is a bad thing nor that a subcontract can never be fulfilled by subbing the sub (past that, I think it gets too shaky, though; the more levels away, the greater the chances it will be problematical). What I would say is that, as long as you are aware of what the actual resources you are receiving are, then you can make informed choices. If the resources are too far from what you need, you can reject them or make project allowances for them. Realistically, projects suffer when there isn’t even a single senior person around, though. Just keep that in-mind before final sign-off on the resources you’re presented.

Another Things to Remember
Remember this: the company that is providing your services has you as their customer. When they subcontract to another company, you are NOT that other company’s customer – your services provider is that subcontractor’s customer. While all of us that subcontract try to service the final customer as if they’re our own customer, they still aren’t our own customer. Final loyalty on a project comes to whoever is one’s customer, and that isn’t the FINAL customer (by “final” customer, I mean the one whose project it is). Think of it this way, whomever is paying is the customer. The final customer pays their services provider, thus remains that service provider’s customer. But the service provider pays their subcontractor, thus they truly are the subcontractor’s customer. If there is ever an issue of loyalty, the subcontractor is required to side with their own customer, which is the services provider.

This is something of an ethical dilemma. As people who provide services to projects, we try to be loyal to the project above all else. But we do have to be loyal to our customer, too. When we are pulled between the two, whoever is our customer is usually the winner. On another day, maybe I’ll post some examples of why day-to-day loyalty must be at a project level but final loyalty has to be to the customer, but I’ll leave this here, for now, because I’ve got a busy day ahead of me and not a lot of time to come up with examples at this exact moment.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises