Every once in a while, I go off rails and experiment with various topics. Satire always intrigued me, and I write bits and pieces here and there, but I was unable to formulate them into a proper article until recently.
Here is my take on how you ought NOT to draft mails.
But before that, we have to understand what exactly it is we are trying to convey here.
Satire is the flavour, but what is to be said of the chip being dipped into our satire rich dip sauce?
Mails Are a Tricky Business
Businesses are a market of exchange, with the potential of transforming into a self-sustaining market.
Services and resources are provided for a fee, which is used to acquire more capital and resources until that business is large enough to sustain itself, after which it eventually transforms into a market of its own.
This is usually what happens, as service based businesses eventually expands, develops its own suite of products, then its brand, and slowly but surely inches its way into a product based company.
Microsoft, Google, SAP, IBM are giants today, but they had their humble beginnings.
But that is not the point of this article.
Mails are the bloodline of all businesses.
They are also the bloodlines that keep you employed. Send the wrong mails, and it will cut off the blood supply from your pay check.
Nobody wants that.
That is why I have written an entire article dedicated to sending bloodletting mails, so that you may recognize them and avoid bleeding yourself to death.
Most of what is being highlighted here is something that will resonate with Indians working in the IT sector. Don’t ask why, that’s just how it is.
Before we get into it, there is someone I’d like you to meet.
Don’t be like him.
That is all I have to say about him, and you will find out why as you read on.
This is what you ought to aspire to.
No more questions, lets dive right in.
You screw something up, and the client is furious so he drafts a mail looping all the managers he can think of, dead and alive, just to show everyone how pleased he is with your quality of service.
SAE decides to send a mail, and this is what he wrote:
Hi C,I know I “might” have wiped out everyone’s personal details from your company server, but it’s not entirely my fault.
The verdict is still out, and I just happen to be the only guy working on this project.
Either way, it’s always best to look on the brighter side of things.
Now that the clutter has been cleared, the server performance has multiplied by a factor of 10! Don’t fact check that though.
Also, we here at XXX Company provide services in RPA as well!
All that data which mysteriously vanished, will be pooled right back into your server in a flash!
Yes, you read that right, the robot will take care of everything, and all you have to do is sign this SOW right here, so that we can get started.
If you send that sort of mail, you will never find yourself another job anywhere on this planet.
Here is what you ought to send:
Hi C,I am terribly sorry for the mistake I have committed, really I am.
However I come bearing good news – there is a way to reverse the effects of my erroneous implementation, and I will keep you posted until I finish up what I unintentionally started.
My sincere apologies.
This might still get you fired, but at the very least, you can get another job.
You DIDN’T screw anything up, but the client is still furious and sends a mail looping folks from the deepest parts of the ocean. The sea-level executives are going to make a tasty meal out of you and there isn’t a damn thing you can do to prevent that from happening…
You know you are about to get your head chomped off, even though you followed the client’s instruction to the letter, which is why it leaves you deeply perplexed that he’d send you such a mail out of the blue, and then it dawns on you.
Client-san was nearing his own deadline and forgot to include vital information regarding the process, and he decided to do the honourable thing by shifting blame towards the company providing service to them, with you being in the spotlight.
Also, he is a business user.
What is a Business User?
They are individuals who don’t quite understand the technical aspects that come with implementing IT solutions, which is why they remain quite on those fronts.
They have a “high level understanding” of the process, which is another way of saying, “I kinda get it, but I really don’t. Here, fix this for me and if you don’t then I will make it your problem.”
That folks, is the power of an MBA.
Go get yourselves one, and you can torment developers until retirement.
You’re Bluffing. This Never Happens.
Oh it does.
Clients often assume that what they have provided is sufficient, which is why they throw a hissy fit when we tell them later on that so and so details haven’t been provided in the documentation they prepared for us. That impedes progress, and makes them look bad.
Also, they have deadlines of their own, and if we aren’t quick to detect the gaps, then we will fall into them, even if those gaps were left behind by business users themselves.
However, it would be disingenuous to hate on Business Users, when IT Professionals (much like yours truly) also come with a set of deficiencies.
Here’s a dirty little secret, no IT professional actually knows with absolute certainty whether a process is feasible at every step of the way.
They might understand that the outcome is achievable but they aren’t aware of the areas that could potentially side-track them, such as access issues, changes to the software that led to the deprecation of features they mostly relied on, important details the business user forgot to include like the presence of captcha, etc. just to name a few.
They have an idea of what works, and depend on the light cast by their experience to guide them to a solution or into another goddamn issue.
So we often end up saying “Yes, it’s absolutely feasible!” without having a clue as to whether it is feasible or not, only to rack our heads later on once our project manager dumps the project onto our lap.
Now that you know our dirty little secret, let’s see what SAE sent to his client.
Hi C.I see you have looped the C-Level executives for this one.
But I have even smarter moves in my arsenal.
Well, actually I don’t, I just wanted to sound cool for a moment, and now that moment has passed.
I will say this though, just because I agreed to automate your application doesn’t necessary mean that I can automate each and every aspect of it.
I do remember saying “Yes, it’s absolutely feasible!” but I said that without paying attention and it’s completely your fault.
You pulled me into a call that lasted four long hours. Who can pay attention for that long? I have a family to take care of and I use this excuse every chance I get, like I am now.
You made me do it, and now you want to blame me for it.
Shame on you.
SAE tried to pull the “Emotional Blackmail” tactic, but he forgot that he was dealing with cold-blooded sharks that would rip him to shreds, which is exactly what they did after reading his response.
I wonder what BeLikeBro wrote in response to his client mail. Let’s have a look.
Hi C,I am sorry for not delivering on what I promised.
I will spend my time working through the entire process once more. There were points I forgot to highlight during our requirements gathering period, and I take full responsibility for that.
If possible, I would appreciate it if we could set up a call this week at your convenience, so as to clarify few doubts regarding the process.
BeLikeBro did the right thing by only addressing the client, and not feeding the sea-level sharks swimming about in the loop, keeping them at bay.
He said what he had to, realized he had to apologize seeing that the odds were stacked against his favour, and carried on with his work.
But in All Seriousness
Be smart about the mails you send.
More on that in a coming post, somewhere in the near future.