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Consultant having problems with placement agency

By Toni Bowers ·
Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with, or protect yourself against, end customers flexing their weight and placement agencies caving in to their demands, with the consultant stuck in the middle?

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My advice...

Would be to give us more information on your issue. This could be any range of things.

In the end, the placement agency is providing a service to the customer, and the customer is always right.

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Agree with Correction

by BFilmFan In reply to My advice...

The customer is not always right, but they are always the customer.

Scope creep and poor project requirements are the bane of consultants and are encountered everywhere. I've found that very few of the placement agencies truly understand the work they are bidding on and are basing their estimates on the client's requirements, which are generally nebulous, at best.

The lack of IT professionals doing project scoping has always been and always will be an issue.

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Me too

by JamesRL In reply to My advice...

As someone who used placement agencies during a dry patch a few years back, I rapidly discovered that the customer/client relationship is between the agency and the end customer and the people they search for are grist for the mill.

Most agencies don't care about the candidates, they care about the long term profitable relationship with the customer, and if the candidate/employee is sacrificed so be it.

The one agency that treated me decently is one that I have called when I am looking for candidates....

James

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Communication

by dave In reply to My advice...

Situations like this happen on a regular basis, but it can usually be avoided by increasing communication between the consultant, the placement company, and the customer. The placement company wouldn't have hired you if they thought you couldn't do the job. Talk to them at least every other week to let them know how things are going with the customer. If you come across any issues, then the placement company will be more likely to side with their consultant. If the customer is extremely stubborn, then at least the placement company would be willing to relocate the consultant to another project.

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The Customer is always right but calm the storm

by tx1cajun In reply to My advice...

I have been deeply in the midst of consulting when bad feelings, budgets, timing , or other comes in way of completing a project. Your agency has every right to say that is enough, but you have to make every effort and sometimes beyond to demonstrate that you did everything you could short of magic to make things work.

In the end , your own honesty and integrity will overcome perception. Always, always, do beyond what is reasonable and understand some misunderstandings will happen. Work off line with the hiring operation to quiet concerns and make whatever restitution they would like you to make without compromising your own integrity.

There is a chance that they will realize in the long run the error was not yours. It may take some time. Chalk it up to experience and move with whatever positive can come of it.

Chuck McManus
The McManus Group

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Obviously customer is not always right

by jesc In reply to The Customer is always ri ...

The customer generally has more power, but customers are often not even close to right. The customer can often coerce something they want. This does not make them right, it only makes them self serving.

I get so tired of hearing the saying!

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It happens at all levels

by Leee In reply to Consultant having problem ...

Picture this: Twenty-year-old female working her way through college by doing third shift at a Very Major Copy Chain store on the main college town drag. Three a.m., drunk man comes in, attempts to make copies of various body parts, verbally abuses woman when confronted, then leaps across counter to try to get to her. Woman feels threatened, slips to back room to call police. Police show up, KNOW THE GUY and tell him to go home. The next morning, woman reports incident to her (also female) supervisor. Guess what the supervisor says?

"You have lost us a customer for life."

Despite the security camera footage that nobody ever looked at, the woman knows that no matter what happens, the company will never take care of her - never mind with pay or benefits, but with the very basic need of personal safety. (Unlike other all-night businesses, there was no panic button.) While the drunk never was a paying customer, fifteen years later that former employee has never, ever set foot in any branch of that store.

It is amazing how even "professional" positions reflect this "customer is always right" attitude. Grist for the mill, indeed. My advice would be to pray that you find an agency (probably small or family-owned) that will stand by you with realistic deadline enforcement, or to be self-employed where YOU will have the final word. Agencies that bend backward at customer pressure can often be spotted by their high turnover rates. Employer-employee loyalty is rare, but if you can find it...

Just my two cents.

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It used to happen...

by theCatman In reply to It happens at all levels

That kind of behavior used to happen with the airlines too but is no longer tolerated.

I work for a consulting company that does stand behind their employees. These companies do exist.

Also, as with any company, establishing a positive relationship with your employer first and any clients you work with will take you a long way.

As someone else mentioned, if everyone is aware of what's happening with a project, there is a much smaller possibility that things will fall apart.

I would also document everything. Noone but you may ever look at it but at least there are names, dates and events in case things gets nasty.

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The Customer is Never Right

by Too Old For IT In reply to It happens at all levels

and here is why:

Very Big Pharmaceutical Wholesaler. Gets half it's management track from small party college the CEO went to. Get's the other half from the party college at 12th & High. Get's its tech support form either Bangalore or Hooterville, AR.

All the staff-aug firms just throw consultants in there, as you never know what they are looking for anyway. All the party-college educated managers-in-training collectively couldn't manage to pour water out of a boot with instructions written under the heel, but they will get promoted just fine based upon the "old school tie".

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Statement of Work Solves This Problem

by tEA-TiME In reply to Consultant having problem ...

I have been an IT contractor for many years, and if you want to survive, you need to demand a clear Statement of Work from the agency. Situations such as this will become clear well in advance, because you will see the tasks / deliverables that will be expected, and when they will be expected.

This way, if they come back at some point and say we need Task X done by Time Y, and it is not in the Statement of Work, they need to file a change order for more hours with the agency. Then let them earn their commission by doing what they are supposed to do and manage the contract.

If the agency / customer will not provide a clear SoW, move on to another contract. It will end up costing you more in the long run.

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