Jun 14, 2009

When TYPO3 gurus cannot help you

I am working with TYPO3 since year 2003. I worked for several agencies and individuals during this time. I am one of the best TYPO3 experts. This is what people say about me, not what I say about myself (I never really wanted to become a TYPO3 expert, it just happened).
I learned a lot of things while working for many people using TYPO3. Among others, there is one most important learned thing: most people think they know the right solution and they only ask TYPO3 experts (like me) to implement that solution. Typically they say: "We want you to make this thing to work like that". They think that the problem will be solved and their own customer will be fully satisfied. They are wrong, of course.

Time goes, I implement what I was asked to implement precizely to the last dot. Their customer says that the solution is a complete crap. The company who ordered the solution to me says that I need to implement something else. Again, they decide on the solution themselves and refuse to let me know the original requirements of the customer. Ok, they are clients for me, so I do what they ask. Their customer is dissatisfied again. Now the company who orders my services starts to think who did wrong. Of course, they will blame me in such case. Usually I show them their own requirements and ask to point me where I screwed up. Of course, they fail to show it because I implemented everything exactly as I was asked. Finally they tell me what their customer wants. I ask a couple of questions and we all find that the solution could me much cheaper, faster and easier than they planned and asked me to make. But now they have to pay me for the already made work plus the new work! And most likely the customer will not come back to them again because they screwed up at least twice.
What's the idea behind all this?
If you hire an expert, let him choose how to solve your problem.
You may think you know how to solve it but it is not necessarily the best way. Pride is not the best thing in business and it is definitely not professional to hire a more competent person for mechanical work. Experts are there not to code you yet another workspaces tweak, they are to solve your initial problem using the most efficient, simple and bullet–proof way.
Don't use a brick of gold as a hummer! Tell me what you want to achieve, not how you think it can be achieved. I may give you a better solution because I am an expert. It is my job to give you a better solution when it comes to TYPO3. Have your client and charge him! But let me find a way to leave your client satisfied and your business growing! Be smart, not proud.
Don't say me how to do it, say me what your customer wants and I will solve it for you and him!


  1. So true. Had this problem 3 or 4 times. I think it's mostly because the customers/company think "Well, he's a programmer, what does he know about our problem, he only codes. Maybe he's even using that ninux-thing - and what does that say about his sense for usability... etc.".

    Consultation-resistant, is what we call 'em :-)

  2. Gregory RemingtonJune 14, 2009 at 11:42 PM

    I've seen this happen so many times in the past 10 years I've lost count. Very valuable insights that apply to TYPO3 and project management in general!

  3. There are a lot of agencies out that work the way you described. I do not know why agencies work like this. Maybe it is ignorance or fear you would steal away the customer. This happened to me a number of times, too. What I do, I choose only those jobs where I am involved right from the beginning and not reduced to a coding slave. If someone want my expertise he has to take it all ;-)

  4. Dmitry, just like you wrote recently regarding designing from the UI first, Acqal does much the same thing with TYPO3 extension support as well.

    We've run into having to help guide clients through a visual medium and agree to that plus the necessary business logic as the real basis for extension development.

  5. Somebody you knowJune 15, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    That's realy true!

    For that reason we have no 'non-technical' project managers.

    We had much better results and customer feedbacks, since we let the customer communicate directly with the developer.

    It needs a little training of how to offer, how to clarify and how to communicate for the developers. But that's much easier, than to train a 'non-technical' project manager how to suggest/design a complex TYPO3 solution :-)...

    Of course we have sales, but they do what they have to do, they find new customers, represent our company and make the customer buy our solution. But the developers suggest the solutions...

  6. "Somebody you know", if you are who I think you are, than yes, you are absolutely right. This agency does a great job of separation sales and technology. I'd say it is a very optimal separation and a good practice.

    Lars, I am not sure why they could be afraid about stealing customers. May they did it themselves? :)

    Thanks to everybody for the great feedback!

  7. Well put, Dimitry, and 100% correct.

  8. One of my customers doesn't want to accept that a login does not work without cookies are accepted. He said, when I give you an order to make a website then it has to work everywhere!?

    "If you hire an expert, let him choose how to solve your problem." should become part of our missions!? :-)

  9. Jigal van HemertJuly 4, 2009 at 10:49 PM

    This reminds me of a head of the finance department who often came in, asking for the head of IT. He requested a custom query on the AS/400 with specific selections, groupings, etc. The head of IT listened to the whole story, described the list he requested and explained that it was already available in menu x, option y :-)

    Many people ask you to nail a screw in a brick wall with a hammer, when all they want is to hang a picture on the office wall; it turns out that the wall already has rail mounted and all they needed was hook and a wire...

  10. LOL i understand you BUT i can tell you a story vise versa :-)

    One of my VB Programmers worked on a Module and had no idea how to implement a certain feature.

    So i made all the work for him (except the last few codings) including a very complex sql statement which do 99% of the logic of that special function..

    SO what does he? He thought hey im a Programmer i know everything better and does his own (very crappy ,.. its so crappy im afraid to tell you what exactly lol) solution..

    his comment was that his solution will avoid many problems ... bal bla...

    Effect was it was unuseable but deadline was near (yesterday as usual) so i rewrite everything and while the rewriting i discovered at least 7 seriose upcomming bugs .. it was (at least for me) obivios in which constelation and condition this will fail...

    but who cares i rewrote everything (which tooks longer than doing everything myself since i had to implement my function in his current structure / processes)

    so .. this can happen on both sides nbut of course im not an agency and whatever i do my company will never be named agency :-) (i hate those since the only ones i met till today where very incompetent lol)