This is the last post of my 2012 Tales series, and it’s a doozy. If you haven’t read any of the others, be sure to check out all posts on 2012 Tales. Now, without further ado, let’s wrap this thing up.
Earlier this year I acquired a client from California through a friend of mine. They were a Non-Profit, but were well-funded by the elite of the west, so money was not much of an issue for them. They consistently funneled work to me and generally kept me pretty busy. In the beginning it was mostly maintenance changes so I could learn my way around their site and get a better understanding of their architecture, but the end goal was a complete redesign/development of the whole thing. They had a designer on board, and were going to use me to handle the development side. It was a big project and I was pretty pumped.
I had a couple of other projects I was working on, so I enlisted the help of a subcontractor to handle the bulk of the coding in order to make our deadlines. Let’s call him Bob. I had used Bob before and thought he’d be a good fit for the project. I gave him plenty of notice and as much information as I could about the project and with thumbs-up email, he agreed to begin working on it.
We began running into some issues that are common when you’re trying to redesign a site but retain all the existing content. Bob was staying on top of it, and it looked like we were going to be just fine. I made the very fatal mistake of relaxing in the hands of Bob while he assured me that everything was on schedule.
After several days or a couple of weeks, I asked to see some visible progress that I could show the client, because they wanted to know how far along we were on hours spent. At this point things began to get…bothersome. Bob was no longer responding to emails as quickly as before. He assured me that things were just fine, but couldn’t give me any tangible proof he’d made any sort of progress at all. As the deadline drew ever closer, he admitted he’d had some issues with the database but remained adamant he’d see it through. “I’ll work all night if I have to,” he said. Not really having much choice, I reluctantly said “Okay,” but expected the worst.
Of course the worst is exactly what happened. Bob sent me an email in the wee hours of the morning that only had one line of text. It read:
I am done I gone as far as I can go with this if this mean the end of our working relations than so be it.
So the day of the launch, I had to tell the client exactly what had happened. The worst part wasn’t getting shafted by a subcontractor, but that I really didn’t have anyone to blame but myself. I saw the warning signs but ignored them on the notion that I’d worked with Bob before. I had given Bob too much rope and he hung me out to dry with it. It would be easy to point the finger at Bob – and he certainly deserves at least some of the blame – but when it’s all said and done, I’m the professional that the client trusted the project with, so ultimately, I’m responsible for this.
The client was understandably upset but graciously allowed me to continue to work off their deposit, rather than just refund it back to them. I also gathered another developer and prepared a brief to take another crack at their redesign, but in the end, they decided to go another direction, as well they should have.
What’s the major lesson I learned in this one? Heck, what’s the lesson in all of these posts about 2012? It all worked together to inspire me to create a new theme for the new year. That one is coming up next.