Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hotel Baths and the importance of client contracts

What is it with American Hotels in their competition to create large rooms with tiny baths. I've been in loads of Hotels and practically none of them in the US have a bath that is worth of the name "large sink" would describe most of them.

This is a cracking example of why a simple service definition isn't enough to ensure a decent quality of service. After all a bath is something that holds water, in which you can sit down, so these enlarged sinks match the basic criteria. They hold water, and if I get in one I get wet.

Now if when I specific a hotel room I could say

Bath.length > 1.2m
Bath.depth > 50cm

Thus giving a detail precondition on what I consider most important in a hotel room. I could also specify the details on the gym, to make sure its not just two crap machines in a tiny room.

Effectively here I talking about the importance of preconditions from a client perspective when selecting and invoking a service. A more business analogy would be when thinking about acceptable response times for a service, where if they don't respond in time you don't care about the result. Its about how the client can place restrictions and contracts onto the service.

The normal way to do this is via parameters on a method, but a more effective way would be via a contract applied to the call which could be managed as a policy independently of the invocation, i.e. changing acceptable response times.

Thus invocations should be about a negotiation between client and service to determine if the required conditions and QoS can be met, if they can't then the invocation is invalid, something the client should have as much say in as the service.

Seriously though, what is with US hotels? The beds are huge, the baths are tiny.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Want to get closer to your business? Then move your chair.

One of the consistent themes in IT is the disconnect between the IT department and the business. There often develops a "People's Republic of IT" which tries, vainly, to lay down policies and pretend that it should be in charge of the important decisions and that "its our way or no-way" is a reasonable approach to take. Some organisations aren't as extreme as that but almost every company I've every worked in, or with, in my whole career missed a basic fundamental point about how people collaborate.


Simple eh? When people collaborate and work together they work person to person and interact with each other. Now the real challenge is to make that effective, sure you could have a phone conference or a meeting or a quick coffee and for some bits that really can work.

But if you have something where its critical that IT and the business are working in close step and working together to deliver things then there is really only one solution.


Again, pretty simple but something that IT folks seem to shy away from. In the book I cover how different services require different delivery models, and for some of these its essential that business and IT become one team. Sometimes document based communication is fine, sometimes a phone call or a meeting will do, but as a basic part of operations IT should be part of the business, not a people's republic.

If you need to move closer to your business, mix up the chairs so IT sits with the business not on its own.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Marketing - when honesty isn't the best policy

Honesty in marketing, now I've commented before that I don't think that technology people will every be honest marketeers but I'd like to share a personal experience of where honestly really isn't (for the individual) the best policy.

The lady in front of me in the line didn't quite fit the people that had fallen off the plane to SFO from London, almost looked as if she had deliberately delayed her exit from a previous flight. Up she wanders looking nervous and frightened to the immigration desk, home of those great questions like "are you looking for work" and when you answer "no" following up with the genius "what if someone offers you a job while you are here", which is pretty much like "when did you stop beating your wife". So anyway she gets to the immigration guy, he looks at the passport, does a bunch of staring, asks her where she is staying and it all seems to be going fine....

Then he asks

"How long will you be here"

And she answers, honestly,

"I don't know yet, I don't know how long I can stay"

A couple of questions later and she goes off to secondary questioning.

Now I'm not saying that people should lie to get into the US (because that would get me the rubber glove treatment) but I am saying that sometimes the smart people will bend the truth to get their own aims delivered, and if you don't accept and deal with that then you are going to be going into the secondary room wondering how you got there.

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