Beyond Repair: The fixed-price model

Written by Steve Pickard

Don't get me wrong. I certainly don't thinkrepparttar majority of vendors who use a fixed-price model are trying to rip you off. In fact, when I started my business that'srepparttar 137550 way we worked—which is why we have such great insight intorepparttar 137551 flaws inrepparttar 137552 system. But there needs to be a transparency torepparttar 137553 work. You need to know exactly what you're getting, how long it takes, and how much it costs. You need to know that you're only paying for time actually spent on your account. And you need to know that no risk will ever be taken with your system just to maintain your contractor's profitability. The inherent structure of fixed pricing makes this kind of transparency an impossibility. Here's why:

Fixed pricing is designed to function withrepparttar 137554 absolute minimum amount of human attention. The morerepparttar 137555 company does not work forrepparttar 137556 client,repparttar 137557 higherrepparttar 137558 profit. This creates an adversarial system whererepparttar 137559 caretakers fight to do as little work as possible no matter how much they are being paid.

Fixed pricing encourages wastage. Since a fixed price contractor has an hourly rate in mind - say $120/hr - then when they quote $12,000 per month, that really means that they intend to spend no more than 100 hours per month on your account. But if nearrepparttar 137560 end ofrepparttar 137561 month they have only done 20 hours, for example, then what happens torepparttar 137562 other 80 hours? Nothing. You would have received inferior services for an astronomical hourly rate and have no recourse to approachrepparttar 137563 contractor and ask that they put in a little TLC.

Fixed pricing encourages increased risk. This one has a little math behind it: If a problem can be corrected in 1 hour but has a 10% chance of reoccurring in 2 months, or can be corrected in 5 hours and will never happen again,repparttar 137564 fixed price contractor will always pickrepparttar 137565 1 hour solution. Why? Imagine that they have 10 different clients withrepparttar 137566 same problem. They can spend 50 hours fixing itrepparttar 137567 right way for everyone, or spend 10 hours fixing them allrepparttar 137568 wrong way knowing that only 1 inrepparttar 137569 10 (10%) will have a problem in 2 months (incurring another 1 hour then). Therefore,repparttar 137570 total time saved by doing itrepparttar 137571 wrong way is 39 hours. A huge savings torepparttar 137572 contractor.

Now imagine if that problem has downtime or data loss associated to it. This will never factor into their profitability equation.

Fixed pricing can be deceptive as far as measure of quality. Take database administration, for example, since that's what I know best. The measure ofrepparttar 137573 DBA job in a fixed price model is to ensure thatrepparttar 137574 database is up. Performance improvement or dealing with performance decline is not even inrepparttar 137575 contract. Also missing is any diagnosis of complex performance or network issues which may involve more than one piece ofrepparttar 137576 architecture puzzle.

Get Down With OCP: Evaluating DBA Job Applicants in an OCP World

Written by Robert Hamel

Not long ago, weeding through DBA applicants with a tech interview was a straightforward process. You'd ask candidates 200 or so technical questions. If they got 100 correct answers, you knew they'd been aroundrepparttar block; 150 or more and you knew you were on to superior talent. But oncerepparttar 137549 Oracle Certification Program (OCP) became popular inrepparttar 137550 late 90s,repparttar 137551 traditional tech interview lost its effectiveness. These days, candidates can answer 180 questions correctly and you still won't know whether they're talking from experience or simply regurgitating what they memorized at OCP a few weeks earlier. Although it has become increasingly difficult to determine whether you've found a seasoned, highly qualified DBA or a newly minted OCP Graduate, there are ways.

First, start by throwing outrepparttar 137552 questions. Any candidate who has been through OCP knowsrepparttar 137553 answers—all of them. That list that helped you find superstar employees inrepparttar 137554 past is unfortunately useless now. Second, if you are a manager without solid database experience, enlistrepparttar 137555 help of an experienced DBA to help you prepare that critical interview. IT Managers have varied backgrounds and here it's important to pull fromrepparttar 137556 right background, be it yours or someone else's.

You also need to analyze your needs. If you're looking to hire a junior person and mentor them,repparttar 137557 OCP program ensures thatrepparttar 137558 candidate has been exposed to most areas ofrepparttar 137559 Oracle RDBMS. You can assume you'll have an employee who knowsrepparttar 137560 commands and has a general concept of how a database works. But if you select an inexperienced OCP candidate thinking you're getting a skilled veteran, you'll be in for countless unpleasant surprises. Typical horror stories sound like: A DBA restoresrepparttar 137561 backup forrepparttar 137562 first time in a real-life situation, finds outrepparttar 137563 backup strategy was flawed and losesrepparttar 137564 whole database. S/he probably also forgot to make a backup ofrepparttar 137565 database before attemptingrepparttar 137566 recovery, therefore rendering Oracle support intervention nearly impossible.

A DBA recommends technical implementation decisions based on limited experience with a single user database that has 10 tables of 100 rows each. Of course,repparttar 137567 system hangs a few hours afterrepparttar 137568 launch—as soon as 10,000 users start pounding on a 500GB database.

The most damaging aspect of newer DBAs is that they don't know when they are in over their heads, or how to plan properly. Senior IT professionals, no matter their field of expertise, have a gut feeling when it's happening. They know they have to step away, talk things over with a peer, roll everything back, and try another day. Inexperienced IT professionals are fearless and can therefore be dangerous, especially if they're expected to runrepparttar 137569 show.

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