If you ever spent any time as an IT consultant, then you understand that it can be a stressful, especially when things go wrong. Every consultant will eventually have to deal with a mistake, either made by them or someone else. Though mistakes are a part of the job, what happens next is important. Some companies that I have dealt with in the past have made some mistakes that cost my confidence in them.
When someone else makes a mistake
As someone who has hired consultants and vendors to supplement some of the support for an organization, I can tell you what happens when a problem occurs when multiple vendors are involved. They all point fingers at each other and frustration can quickly ensue. As a consultant take the higher road and examine the problem, if it isn’t your fault, show the evidence (documentation, images, network tests) and prove where the problem is. So many people are afraid to admit fault, either due to they don’t know where the fault is, looking bad to a client or self image, that they immediately point fingers. Take the higher road examine the problem and give evidence to support your conclusion, don’t just say it’s not my fault…that doesn’t help build client confidence in you.
When you make an error
I’ve seen some consultants make a mistake and hope that their client notice the problem, or notice it way after they have left. I’ve had once met with client who had problems they didn’t even knew they had, a ticking time bomb that a previous consultant left them. Now I don’t know if the consultant knew there was a mistake or not, but there it was sitting there waiting to become an issue.
Either way if you or your company makes a mistake, then own up to it as soon as you become aware of the issue. When I was working for a client once, I had enlisted some help to install Windows XP on a group of computers. Once deployed, and while double checking, I noticed one of the machines had Windows Vista on it. I immediately called the client to let them know of the mistake. I told them that despite our checklist a single computer was incorrectly installed. The client informed me that they needed this system corrected. I spent the rest of the morning getting this machine back to correct specs and returned to the client.
Despite messing up the clients install and taking longer than the original estimate, I learned that Clients don’t want excuses, they just want their stuff to work. Always take the higher and more noble path and admit when you have made a mistake and do everything in your power to correct it. A company can overlook an admitted mistake, companies will not overlook an unwillingness to react.