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The Big Four

The "Big Four" refers to the four largest international accountancy and professional services firms. Big companies like mine pay big money for these guys to do a lot of shit that doesn't really matter.   

I met with two guys from one of the Big Four today to discuss SQL injection and other security fau paux. They've got a very large budget for a very large project to identify and rectify existing system security issues throughout the company.

In reality, their job is to string this project out as long as it takes for the well to dry up, while insuring they've embedded themselves as the only subject matter experts for the next related big project. And once they've completed this project, we'll hire another couple of guys from a second Big Four company and pay them a large sum of money to audit the work of the first couple of guys from the first Big Four company. 

All of this is a huge waste of time and money.

The two subject matter experts I met with were young, clean cut, and wearing suits and ties; they looked like two Mormon missionaries trying to convert me to something that would eventually lead to eternal bliss and glory. Kind of a baptism by fire.

Typically with the Big Four, a "Subject Matter Expert" is someone who just graduated from college and took a crash course on the subject right before flying out to the client location. Or maybe just crammed on the flight over. These "SMEs" need to know just a little more than you do, then they can earn the $450/hr we pay them for their subject knowledge.

With all this in mind, I always feel I need to be as difficult as possible with them.

SME #1: "We'll need to freeze the code on your application while we do our analysis."

Me: "That's fine. As long as I can continue to develop and have software releases."

SME #1 and SME #2 looked at each other confused.

SME #2 gives it a try: "But... Freezing the code means you won't continue to develop or have software releases." 

Me: "Oh, I see. Then I guess you can't freeze the code."

SME #1: But if we don't freeze the code, our analysis will be incomplete."

Me: "Look, I already told you. I don't have any problem freezing the code as long as I can continue to develop and have software releases."

So now they'll go back to their boss and tell him I'm an idiot. Their boss will tell my boss that I'm being difficult. Mulhausen will then ask me why I'm being difficult and I'll say that I've told them they can do anything they want as long as it doesn't keep me from doing my job. Mulhausen will agree and tell their boss to tell his guys to be more flexible. Their boss will tell the two SMEs that Mulhausen is also an idiot. In this case he'll be right, but the bottom line is, I will continue to be difficult and they will continue to drain the well.

And everyone's happy.

Reader Comments (1)

And that's why I love consulting! We take 'em for everything--AND, they're dumb enough to believe us.

December 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLdL

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