Sunday, February 04, 2007

We Don't Work Weekends

We recently had a chat with a new client. They want to migrate a system to a new Small Business Server/domain. The client's preference was to do this over a weekend.

We said no. We don't work weekends.

"Uh, but . . .."

No buts. We don't work weekends.

"Well, we want to minimize downtime and interruption. We don't want to take a chance on losing any data. We'll be moving from POP3 to an in-house exchange server. We don't want to lose any email." Blah blah blah.

We're adamant about this.

We can migrate all your data, and your email, from your old NT 4 domain to your new Small Business Server with zero company downtime. We'll migrate every user with less than one hour downtime per user. We'll preserve their entire profile, and every icon will be exactly where it was. Zero data loss. Zero email loss. Zero company downtime.

Since we CAN do that during normal business hours, with virtually no interruption of your regular procedures, why shouldn't we? Why should you pay time-and-a-half for weekend work, when we can do it all during the week? Why should I pay overtime, and higher workers comp?

Let's both save a bunch of money and do the job during regular business hours when all the tech support lines are open, the ISP's available, and we can run out for donuts?

Eventually they agreed. It really wasn't a big deal. We stated very matter-of-factly that we could accomplish all their goals while the sun is still up. So why work after hours?


I always hear people in our business say things like "Of course there's always evening and weekend work."

No there isn't.

"But we can't have downtime during business hours."

Fine, so figure out how to avoid that. The technology exists. All you neeed are: 1) A commitment, and 2) A plan.

You can do a Swing Migration (see, or do a totally manual migration, as we do. Either way, you can do your job in the 8am - 6pm time frame without any overtime.

So the next question is, why do consultants do this? Why do they schedule work in the evenings? Why do they schedule work on the weekends?

I have to be honest. I just don't know. I speculate that some people don't really want to do it any other way. Maybe they like being the "hero." Maybe they don't want to go home. Maybe they just can't think of any other way to do things. Maybe they haven't tried.

The part I fear the most is that our business is filled with people who can't figure out how to get their work done within a ten hour day. Maybe they can't or won't come up to speed on the technology. Maybe they just don't care how much time they spend "at work" versus not at work.


Here's a fact. Every consulting company that grows big has some rules about overtime. They're not the same for everyone, but here are some of the basics.
  • Employees work 40-hour weeks
  • Employees get paid for overtime
  • Client work is done during normal business hours (8am-5pm)
  • Clients pay extra for work outside those hours
You need to value your own work and your own time. Your time has to be worth something. If it's not valuable to you, why should it be valuable to your clients?

As strange as it sounds, it can be very profitable to move into these policies. So, if you're not doing them, start soon. It is quite reasonable that, on a 30-day notice, you can raise your after-hours rates. That will make you more money and reduce the number of after-hours hours.

It is highly unlikely that you will ever grow your business beyond a one- or two-person shop until you adopt the policies you need to sustain a larger company.

Do emergencies happen after hour? Absolutely.

Does regular work ever need to be scheduled after hours? Absolutely not.

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