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consultant that is family friend

By rlindstrom ·
I work for a family run business (2nd generation - enough said). We outsource some programming to a consultant that has become a family friend over the years. I was promoted to IT Mgr. a few years ago and much to my disdain, he was basically untouchable even though we are way overpaying him. Recently, he found out that we are replacing all of his sub-systems with some new BI tools from Cognos. He offered to helo with the conversion and we declined. He then threatened me by saying "We'll have to see what "...." says this afternoon. I'm at a loss on how to handle this. Has anyone else run into this??

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What pull do you have?

by gralfus In reply to consultant that is family ...

If you are part of the family and he is only a family friend, shouldn't you have at least as much pull? If so, document the issues and present them to those in charge (his costs, his contributions, the harm to the business, the relative cost of other consultants, and your own opinion).

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Broke the rule... now try to fix it.

by Pr0x1 In reply to consultant that is family ...

I have a rule, never go into business with family or friends unless its a vested mutual investment with shared risk. Seems this isn't the case, but you still have this friend to deal with.

You could ask him to retool himself, even pay for his training to upgrade himself. Of course given his actions I'd make him sign a document stating that if he takes the paid training, there is no raise for at least 18 months, and if he quites, he has to pay back the cost of the training, including the days he took off for it.

I've run into this before, and you just have to be honest with everyone as to the reasons for the change. Not just the IT friend, but everyone involved. And these need to be seperate conversations. Ultimately, you need to follow executive decisions. Do whats right for the company, but follow chain of command. and document the crap out of everything (CYA).

Good luck.

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Show your professionalism

by th7711 In reply to consultant that is family ...

I believe you have everything to support your move. But you have to manage human reaction. At first, you should pull him on your side by offering him training and take part in the conversion unless you try to kick him away by doing this project. Anyway, what you can do now is to present you points to your boss, may be his too. Hopefully, you get support from your boss. You may not achieve what you expected, i.e. kick him out from your sight. But you may gain credit from your boss by considering the benefit from the company.

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Am I missing something here?

by markdmac In reply to Show your professionalism

This guy is a consultant. He's not an employee. It is HIS job to stay current. Don't offer him anything.

He sees an opportunity to try and maintain some form of control/ownership of the systems since you are replacing his custom written stuff.

Your best bet it to severe ties with him by doing the implementation yourself. He wants to learn the new system so he can keep coming back. Smart move on his part but don't let him manipulate you.

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Solution is itself in your Problem

by nurpak In reply to consultant that is family ...

What I could percieve in your message that you are working in a family run business. I believe in family run businesses decisions on changes, purchases or replacements where money is involved are not totally made by the hired Managers. There must be an Owner, Who agreed,approved or gave you the final decision replacing all of his sub-systems with some new BI tools from Cognos? Go to that Authority person, because that family friend is not going against your decision but against the Authority decision. This is always good to keep your higher-ups informed. It saves one from lot of backfires.

However, no one is in your position who can completely understand and give a correct solution, Listen to everyone, analyze and make a careful decision.

Wish you good luck!

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It's 90% About the Sizzle = Approach; 10% About the Steak

by 94mssilver94 In reply to consultant that is family ...

This is a great opportunity to broadcast a range of skills
that are common to those successful in business,
including but not limited to 1) Selecting difficult
business options (solving the dilemna of progress v.
loyalty to an old family friend); 2) Placing principles --
priority of business growth & revenue production over
personalities; 3) Navigating company politics,
previously existing loyalties and alliances; 4)
Traversing the company culture of the past while 5)
Exercising leadership into the future.

What approach set you choose -- solve the problem or
leave well-enough alone -- depends on your will to risk
it all, and success depends on many factors beyond
your control and view especially since this is a family
business. A "compassionate" business decision made
cheerfully and without apology works in a male, alpha
dominated business culture.

If I were you, I'd risk it in a healthy, growth-oriented
business because a focus on the bottom-line is always
a smart play. To achieve the goal of upgrading the
programming function, I would adopt the most
successful methods in the business problem-solving
and style arsenal of the family member / boss(es) most
involved with your future and advancement in the job.
There are myths and tales of such endeavors that travel
around companies. Listen up at happy hour for
consistently described tales, and form a plan to adopt
them to your style and the situation facing you here.

I'd document like mad, prepare proposals and proceed
with a large helping of tact and understanding
accompanied by a no non-sense and no apologies
approach for adjusting the IT department to the pace
and demands of a vigorous and rapidly changing
business environment and client market(s).

Caveat: There are some business cultures that work
against themselves and, thereby, oppose or sabotage
their own success. If you are in such an environment,
the personalities (and the egos) will reign victorious,
and the principles of business i.e. growth and advances
in revenue production will be over-shadowed.

If your reasonable and rational efforts to do the job you
are paid to do to the best of your abilties are not
respected, you will know soon enough, and under
those circumstances you may be faced with the
decision of finding another job. It is not
unconscienable, I believe, when faced with such an
unhealthy business culture to consider your own best
self-interest ahead of the company and perhaps leave
well-enough alone.

Taking the risk and making the logical changes or
leaving well-enough alone could lead to the same
result, you fail and are fired. So, I'd go down swinging
for something I could be proud of and let the chips fall
where they may. Backbone, guts and the quest for
growth always play well in business even when
sensitiive toes are bruised.

Reason this out with a mentor you can trust before you
execute a well-thought out and documented plan. And,
go for it!

Good luck! Keep is posted!

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Follow the procedures

by Italian In reply to consultant that is family ...

I also work for a "family" run business. I was employed as an I.T. Manager and I was also a friend of the chairman and so all the other I.T. personnell. I handled the situation by eliminating all the possible obstacles by talking the language they know: MONEY! If the consultant is too expensive then write down all the FACTS and present them to the chairman, managing director or the financial director. Make sure you have all the facts right! Point out also other facts, such the non compliance to ISO standards and other procedures. You are the I.T. Manager, so make sure you write the procedures for your deparment in a way that you have some freedom on hand! If all this fail, another methods is to give less and less work to that consultant, and if he is on a retainer type of package, remove it and put him on a time and material! I hope this will help.

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The Customer is Always Right

by jevans4949 In reply to consultant that is family ...

In a family business, economics is not always the bottom line.

Make your case for not using the guy in this situation, both in terms of cost and his technical competence (if that is in question). If the boss wants to go with him, then make it clear it's against your advice.

In the end, however, it's his money you're spending, so must be his decision.

If YOU maintained normal courtesy when dealing with the guy up to now, then hopefully you can manage to work with him.

If all else fails, you can always offer your resignation.

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Similar Situation

by David_Sorenson In reply to consultant that is family ...

In a prior job, I was in charge of overseeing accounting functions, day-to-day operations and centralized IT activity for a family-run business (I was friend of the family).

It was while at this job that I encountered a similar situation. I submitted receipts for reimbursement of business expenses (it was about 8 receipts totaling $75) and had a check cut for that amount.

One of the owner's sons had a car repair bill for about $325 that was reimbursed earlier in the year. Long story short, the boss decided that employee expenses would no longer be reimbursed and I was to repay the money. When I asked him about his sons car expense and reimbursement I was told "that's different, he's my son".

Seeing what was perceived as a double standard, I chose to dust off my resume, finished a degree program that I was enrolled in and left the company by the end of that calendar year (about 7 months after repaying the expense money).

Lesson learned: You can't fight family, more often than not you will end up on the short end of the deal. Do what you need to do for your career, yourself, or your family. It will be worth it in the long run.

Your situation may be different, but the boss' friend described sounds like he will trump any move you make, so it's your decision how to handle it.

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change job

by subhashanarayan In reply to consultant that is family ...

You better look for other job

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