Hardware

A preparation checklist can avert rude welcomes at client sites

Consultants who work at client sites will have all the amenities they enjoy back at the firm, right? Don't count on it. If you're a contractor who's expecting to spend some time on a client site, check this list to make sure you have everything you need.


Imagine walking onto a client site and finding no desk, no place to plug in a laptop, not even a place to hang your coat. If it sounds ridiculous, think again. It’s happened more than once to Big Five consultant Andrew DiLiddo.

But what if DiLiddo and his team had a preparation checklist that he had discuss with a liaison at the client site to ensure everything was in place for a productive project kickoff. When DiLiddo e-mailed us with his tale of on-site work gone wrong, we decided to compile his suggestions, along with some other pointers, into such a checklist.

Take a look at our list of questions and concerns and tell us what we’re missing. We’ll assemble your ideas and create a download template to help you avoid client-site disasters.

More of DiLiddo’s tale of woe
DiLiddo described a dreadful engagement at a large international bank where his team was not permitted to use the fax machine in their work area. Instead, the consultants had to take an elevator down 32 floors, walk to an adjacent building, and take another elevator up 24 floors just to use a fax machine. And the nightmare didn’t end there.

“On this same bank project, it became necessary to work through the July 4th holiday weekend,” DiLiddo said. “The air conditioning automatically shut down. Our work area soared to over 100 degrees at 2:00 A.M. and we were literally working with our shirts off.”

Eventually, a building engineer on night duty turned on the air conditioning but made DiLiddo’s team sign a $1,000 invoice because the bank had not budgeted to cool the floor over the holiday.

Suggested checklist items
DiLiddo’s story aptly illustrates the need to effectively confirm small details with staff at the client site. Here are the questions and considerations gathered from his experiences, as well as some we’ve added.

Admittance
  • Where should consultants park?
  • Will consultants require a parking sticker? If so, can the sticker be removed easily from rental cars?
  • Will consultants require an ID badge for admittance into any areas?
  • Will consultants need a restroom key or pass to use any employee facilities?
  • Are there any employee facilities where the consultant will not be admitted?
  • If you have an onsite cafeteria, will consultants require a cafeteria pass?
  • Are restaurants or other eateries within walking distance to the work site? If not, how far away are they?

Accommodations
  • What size is the workspace/office?
  • Is the workspace in a busy or noisy area?
  • What type and size are the available meeting rooms?
  • How, or through whom, can meeting space be scheduled?
  • Can the consultants use any storage space at your site? If so, how large is the space?

Technical considerations
  • How long will it take to gain network access?
  • Will your LAN or WAN be affected by the number of consultants engaged at your site?
  • Who should consultants contact if they experience technical difficulties with computer equipment?

Brass tacks and other sundry matters
  • What types of copy and fax machines are available, and where are they located? Do other employees use these machines, and if so when does the heaviest use occur?
  • Are charge codes necessary for any office machines?
  • Where can consultants get basic office equipment like pens, pencils, staplers, and tape?
  • Who should consultants contact if they can’t locate the appropriate supplies?
  • Where is the nearest office supply center?

What can you add?
We’ve provided the starting point. The rest is up to you. How can this list be improved? Can you provide anecdotes of off-site nightmares that a checklist might have prevented? Send us your improvements and suggestions. We’ll compile your submissions and create a downloadable checklist for our members.

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