These days barely a week goes by without an IT Director calling to ask if I’m available to help them move a customer’s ERP software from one server to another. While it’s tempting to quickly answer “Sure just give me a call” – I have learned through experience that this is the absolute worst answer you can give. Here’s why.
The Problems With IT Sever Moves
Unless you’ve been through an ERP server move a few times you probably haven’t experienced these pitfalls:
The larger sized the organization the more that they are going to want you to do the work after hours. Not a problem provided that you’ve figured this out and priced accordingly for an after-hours consulting appointment. Then when you get on the call if they’re like many companies it will be a 30 minute (or more) wait while everyone exits the system and posts the days reports.
Here’s my advice:
Book Normal Priced Server Moves Only Between 9am and 2pm.
The reason is if you book them during business hours the IT Director is going to schedule you for 4pm (an hour before closing) and you are in all likelihood going to sit around until 5pm because everyone “forgot” to get out of the system.
Once you are “elbows deep” in the server setup good luck telling the company that your evening rate is kicking in at 5pm. Actually you can tell them – the luck will come into play when you try to collect any surcharge.
Require a Surcharge If The Works Starts After 2pm
I charge at least a 150% surcharge (more for complex systems) for work on server moves that begins after 2pm. I am fairly comfortable that the later in the day you begin the more likely that you are to run into after hours. So quote the after hours fee right up front. If you’re not comfortable with 2pm use 3pm – but don’t let someone reserve a 4:55pm slot at your regular rate because that appointment WILL run into after hours.
Provide The IT Director With A PDF Copy Of The Supported Hardware and Operating Systems
Never ever ever casually quote the hardware and operating system requirements verbally. Always give a copy of the publishers requirements to the IT Director (here’s Sage’s if you need it). The reason? If the IT Director buys the wrong hardware they’re going to look to you as to why you “recommended” it.
Always Charge for Standing By. Unless You Enjoy “Misunderstandings” At 5pm On Friday
I made the mistake once of offering to be on free standby for a server move. During this time I didn’t expect to receive the phone call for support at 4:50pm on a Friday.
Guess what happened? Yes – just like clockwork the IT person called at 4:50pm begging for help because they’d thought they knew how to upgrade the ERP to a new server but now nothing would run properly. And naturally there were 50 users who expected to come into the company on a Monday and start entering orders.
At 4:50pm on a Friday when you are on the phone with a customer’s IT Director and the system is completely down you are going to have a hard time explaining that you have to leave to start your weekend. And if you haven’t worked out a fee arrangement for this “free standby” you are going to be giving up part of your weekend – and possibly not being paid.
Always charge for being on standby – which is also a defined period of time during business hours (or after hours for a surcharge).
Once you touch the server for purposes of the upgrade you own the issues involved in migrating and installing the ERP to the new location. Charge appropriately and expect the move is going to take about 50 to 75% longer than your optimistic estimates.