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Author Topic: Short term projects?  (Read 257 times)

koehj

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Short term projects?
« on: May 01, 2018, 06:19:22 am »
Hi,
Just wanted to know in anyone else is running into this problem. Of my last 4 projects, all have been prematurely cancelled. In one case (supposed to be 11 months) they let me go after two, because there was nobody to manage me. (I've been a tech writer for @28 years and can manage myself.) In another case (supposedly 6 months), they terminated a signed contract after 10 weeks because my manager left the company and no one else wanted to run it. In yet another job, I lasted 5 months (it was supposed to be eight), then they decided they were too busy to finish the project. In the final job, they called a halt after 7 weeks (supposed to be 6 months) because they didn't have the information to do it.

Before 2016, I had no problem finding and working to the end of 6 month projects or more. One even lasted 3 years. Has the market changed? How can I avoid these short-term clunkers? I dont mind one once in a while, but 4 in a row is killing me!

The Gorn

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Re: Short term projects?
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2018, 07:00:07 am »
Most board members here are from the corporate world. I worked with small businesses all of my contracting career so I've always been out of step of being exposed to corporate "best" practices, instead I've dealt with the always reactionary and ignorant responses of small clients.

So, all I can do is frame this as the long term secular trend of the IT business. Businesses are increasingly retarded and are run on a short-term, panic basis. Back in the 1990s I had several small company software development projects that lasted 6 mos - 2 yrs at the longest. That collapsed in the early 2000s and then it began to be about producing something actually salable within 2-3 months.

Tech writing? I dabbled in freelance writing a few years ago and I have a heart for writers. But my experience is the farther away you get from the revenue flow in the business and more toward support roles, the more irrational and stupid the decision making will be.

My short answer is, it's definitely the business environment plus the role of millennials who now manage and run things being weasels. Low integrity, poor personal character, impulsiveness, short attention span == throwaway projects.

(I sincerely hope someone on this disengaged sleepwalking forum where people only pop in when THEY PERSONALLY have a problem can be bothered to give you an informed answer that is more than two words long and more helpful than what I can.)
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pxsant

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Re: Short term projects?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2018, 07:26:47 am »
Your experience has unfortunately become the norm in many large corporations.   I was just on a 2+ year project with a major big bank that lasted all of 4 months before they scrapped it and got rid of more than 100 people - some of them full-time employees with years at the bank.  High-level banking knowledge is very hard to come by yet they dumped these experienced people as f they were road trash.

The problem is the lack of knowledge and poor capabilities of the people at the top.   They try every newfangled thing that comes down the road (like agile) without having a clue of how to do it.   The worker bees are fine but the top level management types are idiots.   They will burn down an operation and then get credit for saving money on a failed project which they created.

Don't get discouraged.   Shrug it off and move on to the next one.   Once and a while you will find a jewel where the high-level people actually kow what they are doing.

BTW are these large corporations or small fry where your projects crashed?

The Gorn

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Re: Short term projects?
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2018, 07:38:38 am »
^ Good observations from pxsant. Conforms to my own experiences.

This short termism and incompetency of following through used to be a hallmark of small businesses attempting complex projects. 20 years ago on boards like this I would describe such experiences I had with my clients and I would be told it was my fault for being such a loser that I worked with small businesses. In fact most borked contractors that I knew had no idea what I was talking about.

Today it's everywhere.
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benali72

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Re: Short term projects?
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2018, 08:07:57 pm »
Yeah, it's pretty clear from my experience and that of my friends that somewhere over the past decade the project turnover rate has become frantic.

I had a friend who is on a project that was just suspended -- in mid-project -- so that the corporation paying for the contractor services could "renegotiate" the contracts.

IOW, they wanted to stop the project and use that as leverage to reduce everybody's previously agreed-upon rates!

Keohj, you have my sympathy. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, this is definitely the direction contracts and projects are evolving. More and more short term, without the higher rates that used to compensate for short-term agreements. I hope you're able to find another contract, this time with luck it'll have a longer term timeframe.

koehj

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Re: Short term projects?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2018, 08:03:30 am »
Thanks, folks. It's reassuring to know it's not me but the environment. Yes,  these are assignments at large, well known corporations. Most small outfits here in the Midwest see no need for tech writers or don't pay much. I try to look for tightly focused projects with an onsite manager, but even that doesn't always work. There are plenty of assignments, so finding work isn't really an issue, thank goodness. By now, my resume looks like a summary of the Fortune 500! (Joke!)

ilconsiglliere

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Re: Short term projects?
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2018, 05:23:50 am »
Dont feel bad, a bunch of years ago I left a contract telecom job to go to an insurance company as a contractor. I was there for all of one week and they pulled the plug on the area I was in. No joke - 1 WEEK. The insurance company decided to sell their bank and they whacked everyone right after the announcement. This is the mentality now. So I left a paying stable job where the manager was a complete bitch to another one and than got whacked.

Whats happening is the result of all this Agile crap that is being pushed now. Its the big thing now. Regardless Agile outside of IT basically means it a free for all and nobody does any planning. Total chaos. Its being pushed everywhere now.

Yesterday I read an article about how Agile is now being used for "Talent Management". Thats the new buzzword bullshit for HR. This "talent management" bullshit is good for a whole other post.

Richardk

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Re: Short term projects?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2018, 07:47:06 pm »
My experience is quite dated since I needed a steady income, though I've experienced the same as both an employee and contractor. There was often no planning or specs and the ones in charge were clueless. As stated, part of the problem is the millennials with their 'know it all' attitude, want it now and don't want to pay for it.

The other part as I experienced it was a combination of Agile crap and micromanagement. In order for agile to work, it assumes the team knows what it's doing. Either through its customers, a business analyst or something. You can't have the blind, leading the blind. The other part is having a manager that can't leave anything alone and thinks he alone has all the answers. So he will push what he wants and chop out what he thinks is unnecessary.

This has gotten worse as time has gone on. I've had parts of projects whacked because the client didn't want to pay for it. Had a client "renegotiate" a contract AFTER it was completed. Had a client "peer review" my code so they could steal it, without payment. Had a client intentionally derailing my progress until I was no longer needed. Later I found out I was there to buy them time, not to find a solution. I've seen projects get cancelled in the final stages of testing, where they brought in 6 to 10 contractors over a year to complete it.

I have also talked to IT managers where work was sent offshore, knowing that the project would either fail or be cancelled. Their thinking was it was cheaper to offshore it than do it here. I was thinking why do it at all but often it was out of their hands.

I've also had a 2 - 3 month assignment run 1 year. And my best one was a short term project that ran for nearly 9 years, as part of a consulting agency. So you never know what you might run into.

In general things are worse than they used to be but hopefully you find a good client. Your new norm might be many more shorter term projects.

unix

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Re: Short term projects?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2018, 02:02:17 am »
Long term gig in IT is 2 years.
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