I deal with a number of suppliers, resellers and vendors as part of designing and building networks. Most vendors have well run companies who deliver what they promise. But recently, I’m noticing that some of my contacts are constantly busy. As in “Can’t take a telephone call any time” busy, and you get a very short email saying they are busy. As in, “not delivering” busy.
Which is fair enough. We all get busy: some people are badly organised, or a process is broekn. But when every person in that company tells me that they are busy, I’m starting to question what is going on. That is, the account manager, pre sale engineer, tech support, and the whole company.
I worked through the IT bust of 2000 and remember that there are three causes.
The Three Causes of Underlying Busy
- The company is growing so fast that they can’t hire enough people
- The CEO needs to deliver a quick profit to shareholders and starts cutting headcount or puts on a hiring freeze.
- The company is going broke and laid off people to conserve cashflow
For for the first issue, you can mostly forget it at this point of the business cycle. There are lots of people to hire. Unless you work in certain parts of India or China, where it’s kind of different.
The other two items don’t matter much to me as a customer, since I’m going to get bad service either way. However, as someone who evaluates the long term viability of a company, they are both bad. Obviously, laying off staff because of lack of cash in the bank is really bad, but number 2 is equally bad. Starving a company of human resources for short term gain means that the company doesn’t have a long term future. The directors don’t care, or it’s the first signs of a business in decline.
The EtherealMind View
If you are getting the “everyone’s busy” from a company, it’s time to start looking at financials and checking that the company isn’t going under. At this time a lot of resellers are starting to look like they are in trouble and plenty are going out of business.
My main concern is maintenance contracts from resellers or third party maintenance organisations: remember the ones that were just that little bit cheaper 12 months ago? It might be time to think carefully about resigning. The next quarter is projected by many IT companies to be lower volume than normal and this could cause cash flow problems into Q1 2011. Vendors are hard to detect, but resellers ? Just look for busy.
Always busy is almost always a bad sign.