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I'm a newcomer to my job and am the only one on my team who has expertise in a subject. Recently, I learned that only a few months prior to my arrival (before the job was offered to me), my team hired an external company to do some of the work that I was hired to do. I had my first meeting with this company, and after asking these consultants questions, it was clear to me that the company has not been thorough in their work, even though I've only been here for a short amount of time.

My immediate supervisor has been gone and will be gone for the next few days, but my supervisor's supervisor was at the meeting, and would like to meet with me to discuss next steps in supporting this consultant's work. Without going into too many details, the desired way to proceed with helping the consultants will likely give terrible results (and thus affect the company in which I work, should the results be taken seriously), as one of the other attendees at the meeting emphasized.

I have a meeting coming up with my supervisor's supervisor very soon, and I'm not sure how to approach this meeting, and how much I should say. Thoughts? Some of my peers (not colleagues) have recommended formulating a plan for how I would do this work myself. Ideally, I would like to be as honest as I can be, but I have no seniority in my current position.

  • Express some concern and present ways to make it work (ways other than "find other contractors"). – Bernhard Barker Nov 11 '17 at 14:02
  • Was there another person on the team who was similarly responsible? Were they not able to detect the deficiency in the contractor's work? – DS R Nov 11 '17 at 15:11
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Seniority or not, you have subject expertise. If what you see is of concern to you, it would be your duty to document the issues and provide solutions.

With this said, be mindful of how you go about identifying these errors, if you start to point fingers claiming that X did it wrong, you will receive push back.

An ideal scenario would be to effectively hint at the problems and have the external consultant recognize them as problems. Although the credit may not be yours, the end result is that the project is completed to specifications and your concerns addressed.

Work with them to draw their focus towards your end-goals instead of dragging them kicking and screaming.

Big sticks have their value, but sometime subtlety can achieve so much more in the long run.

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  • I like the first part. But I think in this situation I would rather have a "bigger" stick than suffer the consequences this may have if it goes wrong. – DarkCygnus Nov 11 '17 at 4:44
  • The quote refers to the threat of a stick, not an active use of it. In this case, the big stick is terminating the contract. Both parties are aware of this. But to bring it to the forefront "Do X, or we terminate" will sully the relationship that has been built between the two companies. By allowing the consultant to come to the same conclusions as OP (with some help from OP) the situation can be resolved amicably without any hurt feelings or the need to threaten termination of contract. – Frank FYC Nov 11 '17 at 4:48
  • I see your point now. Still I think that there are ways to terminate contract in an amicable and professional way, without hard feelings. Though it should be done as last resource. – DarkCygnus Nov 11 '17 at 4:54
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Thoughts?

You may not be a senior worker there, but you are the Subject Expert on that matter. So, regardless of the time you have been there, your opinion really counts on this one.

If your professional judgment tells you this consultant company is not going to work, then it would be odd to not to say something about it. As Subject Expert these are the things they probably hired you for, so you can say "hey, I don't like this, seems like problems" whenever this happens.

Just remember to keep it as professional as you can when taking to your superior, phrasing your opinions in a constructive and objective way.

Also, I must say that it is noble of you to care about this consultant company, and wish them no wrong. However, when things don't go as expected in businesses, there is nothing wrong in shaking hands, saying "thank you", and looking for other more qualified consultant (like they say, "nothing personal, just business").

Thus, I would not worry much about that, but instead would focus on how to maneuver this with the least fallout possible. Try to double check if this is really unsalvageable (maybe you can think how to work it out somehow, with your Domain knowledge) before you make your choice.

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  • Believe me, it's not the consultant company that I care about, but it's the company I work for. I mean not to suggest otherwise. If the consultants provide terrible results - and I should add: and management takes them seriously, the problem is on my team. – newperson Nov 11 '17 at 4:35
  • @newperson that seems fair. It's ok to be professional but you have to always CYA in any situation :) hope this helped you – DarkCygnus Nov 11 '17 at 4:41
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The question here is fuzzy. It isn't clear how much work is involved for instance. Can you really do it alone in the time frame required?

Since an outside firm has already been hired to do the work, it seems to me that this project is screaming for some good project management control. So put on that hat.

  • Are there written requirements for what is needed?

  • Is cost controlled?

  • Is time frame clear?

  • How is change control going to be handled?

  • Can this project be broken into phases so that progress can be managed more closely?

The point is not to try to get the other company over a barrel, but to enable them to be successful.

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