Monday, November 05, 2007

Life in a Potemkin Company

The company I work for has a relationship with another, much larger company that has a presence in the area. At one time, I believe that they had hoped to sell their product to the company, but it never got any headway. They did manage to rack up some billable consulting hours, though.

In late September, just before I took my trip to the northeast corner of the Sunshine State, we had lunch with some people who work over at that company. It turned out they had budget money to burn before the end of the year and wanted us to do some computer security consulting.

About a month ago, I got told by the CTO that I needed to mark off the first full week of November for this consulting project, meaning I needed to be in the office and no days off. Between then and last week, we heard nothing further about this effort.

Then in the middle of last week, my coworker got a phone call from the CEO telling us that there would be a meeting with the client on Tuesday, Nov. 6 to kick off the project. We were also informed that they would be hiring some contractors to do the grunt work of the project.

It also came to our knowledge that the CEO and CTO planned to travel out east later in the week. They would be in the Big Apple on Wednesday and Beantown on Thursday and Friday. The Beantown trip was supposed to be a meeting with a potential customer. My coworker found out that they wanted him to come along, apparently to take notes.

On Friday, I was instructed by the CTO to download the evaluation version of some computer virtualization software. He said that I would need this to do my part of the consulting work, but did not elaborate what that was.

Also on Friday, my coworker and I got sent draft copies of the work proposal, which was worded too vaguely for us to figure out what the project fully entailed. As far as we could tell, the document does not say anything about us reserving the rite to contract work out to other consultants.

Today we had an afternoon meeting with the contractors to get them up to speed on what little we knew. The CTO, en route from his home three hours away, arrived in the office just before the contractors were to arrive. During this meeting, I was introduced with the title of "Technical Lead", and the coworker was described as the "Project Manager."

I was also told that we would have two meetings with the client. One at 10 a.m. and the other at 1 p.m. We were told the second meeting would be short because the CEO flies out of town at 3 p.m. and the CTO leaves a couple hours after that.

As of this afternoon, my coworker still didn't have his ticket to Beantown.

My coworker has been working furiously to get the project charter completed and has been kicking the document back and forth between the CEO and CTO. Neither of us are clear on what's going on, and it's taxing the outer limits of our sanity.
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