One vendor was explaining a Test Management Tool. You know I the Quality Manager in my company. I was, as usual, not understanding anything. I was thinking of how hot it will be outside our office building as I had to go Kingdom Tower to get lunch. Suddenly, the presenter asked me, “Do you have any questions?”. I was immediately challenged as I had to ask at least one question to save my job as otherwise there were possibilities that the vendor would go to some other part of the organisation and complain that I did not ask any questions. This can be counted as inappropriate behaviour on my part; as this could be considered as unfair treatment of the vendor; as they did not get equal chance; as required for our fair vendor treatment policy. So, instantly, I asked him, “Do you think your servers will work normally if the temperature in Riyadh touches 60 Degree Centigrade?” (as if they were going to plant the servers in the open field). The presenter looked around (seeming completely confused). I think he realised that I am the Customer and thus the King and thus must be asking a valid question.
The biggest advantage of being a Customer is that the vendor never doubts your intelligence. I have learnt this firmly. If I have any such challenge, I comfortably tell them that we have a much bigger purpose in our long-term goals which I cannot share with you. And that is the end of the challenge. Least do they know that I do not know what I need doing tomorrow.
Anyway, as the presenter was at a loss for words, his senior colleague took over and started explaining about something in Siberia and Greenland and Canada. I did not understand anything what he explained. I only realised that these must be locations hotter than Riyadh and added that piece of information in my knowledge bank. However, to prove that I did understand everything, I told him that I had seen computers in India working perfectly fine when I was sweating all over due to the ineffective fan rotating on top of my head. I purposefully stated India to use a management technique someone had taught me that I should always quote examples from my experience. The vendor representatives gave a big smile and I was assured that they admired my intelligence.
Then, from my practiced skills and enormous experience, I told them how wonderful their product was and how very useful it could be for our organisation.
The second biggest advantage of being a Customer is that I do not at all need explaining why any of these statement were made by me. I need not specify any aspect of the product or the solution to qualify or quantify why I said what I said. And believe me that I have good reasons to firmly qualify that the vendors also expect just these statements in this form only and frets these sentences being qualified or quantified.
I also learnt that it is most important to memorise the name of the product or the solution. This name should be used in the sentence while making these statements.
I always memorise this name firmly in my brain as I use them during job interviews. For example, when I was asked in an interview for the position of “Chief Education Inspector” in UNICEF that what programming language I would suggest for building a Computer Based Training suite for use in African villages, I confidently told the Interviewer that we should use “Angry Bird“. He was so happy and told me that it was the best option as the children would also connect with the same. I am still wondering why I did not get the job. Africa was not listed among Siberia, Greenland and Canada and thus must be cooler than Riyadh.
The same advantage also exists when I need interviewing someone. For example, when I was interviewing a person for the position of a “Solutions Architect“, I asked him, “What was the best tool for documenting the solution architecture and then using it for making architectural decisions?”. He confidently told me “IBM“. This was the best answer I could have heard. This is because consultants from IBM keep coming to my office so often to sell so many tools and solutions, all of whose names start with IBM (For example, “IBM this” used for System Architecture, “IBM that” used for Middleware, “IBM something” used for e-Portal, etc.). It is not important that actually I do not know till date whether IBM is a company or IBM is a product. To help you understand me better, I need clarifying that I cannot remember more than one word of the product or the solution name. (“Angry Bird” is a rare exception). It is also not important noticing that I am completely confused by the fact that how can I be accepting to repeatedly buy the product named “IBM” for different solution requirements. My extreme intelligence tells me that the product or solution having the same name should be purchased only once. However, I never challenge anyone as I always know that others know much more than me.