For those of you getting ready to head out to the LabWare CEC (Customer Education Conference), next week) and who happen to run across others who need consulting services and would refer GeoMetrick Enterprises, here are some thoughts to facilitate that.
First of all, here is last week’s post on the topic for those who need a refresher or who didn’t already see it:
I refer people quite frequently. Sometimes, a customer will ask me if I know someone or can help them find someone to do some specific task. Other times, a job will come through my e-mail that I think I could pass along to people who might be appropriate for it and interested in it.
Here’s where this gets tricky to some people – most of the people I refer aren’t people that I know. Because I have so many contacts, I can usually help a customer find someone for a task that I know nothing about or to pass a job posting along to someone who might be interested or know someone who is interested. Some people fret about doing this, afraid that they’ll be held accountable for the person that they don’t know.
When I refer people or pass information along about a person who might be appropriate, I’m careful to mention how I know the person or whether I know them, at all.
Even those people who refer my company don’t necessarily know anything about my services. Sometimes, one customer will hear another mention they need an expert and will suggest GeoMetrick Enterprises as a company to checkout. They do this merely to give the other customer another place to find consulting services not truly as “warm” referral. In other cases, people have worked with my company and can give a “warm” referral. That is to say that they’re excited about the service they received from my company and are eager to tell others about the good experience they had. This is no different than when I tell someone that I personally know a potential job candidate that I’m sending a job posting along to – that I might not necessarily be able to speak about their exact skills with relation to the job but can give examples of their work ethic, character and the like.
Receiving the Free Services
Beyond the rules listed in the previous posting regarding the free services, for those who don’t know my company particularly well and who wonder what types of things they can use that free time for, here are specific examples of short tasks I’ve provided to customers and I give examples of things that can be done with a single charge day or, for those of you who get a couple referrals to come through, two days of time:
- Determined what is or is not a “help desk” bug and prepared it for submission. Thus, some bugs are bugs in the LIMS Basic other configuration done for a project. Often, I can fix those. Other times, the issue is a bug in the LabWare LIMS software. When a customer has a bug, it has to be isolated so that it can be properly submitted. I work to isolate the problem and describe it so that it can be submitted. This can often be done with a single day.
- Reviewing documentation. When a customer is doing their own requirements gathering and possibly their own product selection for a LIMS, ELN or other software, if they have not done it, before, they are sometimes unsure whether they are going about it the right way. Some customers will use a small amount of my time to verify that their work is appropriate to the selection process they are undertaking. This can usually be done with a single day.
- General consulting. In the middle of a project, there are times when project managers or other team members need some direction. They would like to ask questions or pass ideas by someone who is an expert in the software they are implementing. Other times, upper management is trying to understand what direction to take with regard to their laboratory informatics strategy. In some cases, they are not looking for a consultant to come work with the entire project but merely to get a few questions answered and some potential guidance. I have worked with companies in this capacity. With good prioritization of questions and issues, this can be done in a single day.
- Program fixes. Regarding (1), when a company has a number of things they need fixed in their system that are not LabWare system bugs but bugs in their own implementation, someone has to fix them. Sometimes, there’s a list of unsolved problems that no-one has the time or ability to work on. It can be difficult to address these in a single day. This usually would take at least two days. The first day is a day to really understand the system and the issues at-hand. The second and subsequent days would heavily focus on fixing the items.
- Design new system elements. When the users have been requesting new functionality, if it is a modest-size block, i.e., something that would take just an hour or two of meetings to flush-out, this can probably be designed within one day but would take two days to finish, since we must always account for the iterative process of allowing the participants to check the design for misunderstandings or mistakes.
Try to both learn something at the CEC, next week, but also enjoy yourself. And I know there are some of you who refer GeoMetrick Enterprises with no reward in sight. But, to any of you that refer my company, I appreciate it and thank you in advance. I did mention this works out for me because it means fewer conferences I have to spend money and time on but the big issue is the fact that, when you are referred to a customer I find that they are more interested in working with you, to begin with. From there, it seems to color the entire business relationship going forward, often making for a more pleasant working relationship and more eagerness to work together and get things done than when both sides are strangers, in my experience.