When a third party is responsible for a problem in a project

I would like to share one story that recently happened in my company. I thought publishing it, I could somehow help project managers anticipate and avoid undesired problems.

The story is this:

One person from the financial sphere (let's call him a customer ) decided to open his own business and turned to our company (let's call it just a company ) for software development.

The implementation of the project required the development of several standard modules of the internal system and one financial and monetary module, which completely depended on the WEB API services of a completely different large company (let's call it a third party ).
A third party, on the basis of an agreement with the customer, provided the latter with services, in the form of access to their own WEB API services, with their documentation and support.

We are business people and professionals, we are able to develop software and work with WEB API services for 5+, so the first half of the project went without a hitch. Everyone is happy that we are about to boast of another success and the customer is also happy.

But it wasn’t there, problems overtook us with the start of service integration:
  • Incomplete documentation
  • Incomplete WEB Services
  • Blocked access to part of the desired functionality
  • etc.

First of all, we started reporting on problems and malfunctions to the customer, but he, they say, “is not an IT techie,” respectively, he doesn’t understand all the terms and questions that we ask, so he redirected us to a third party on his behalf and with full Approval to ask any technical question regarding their services.

Communication with a third party did not work out well either, it happened that when I asked about “what does error code 234 mean, which should be written in the manual and it doesn’t exist” , I had to wait for an answer almost the whole day, because the representative of the third party is now not available, then he needs to consult with the department that developed part of the services from 200 - 250, etc.

All correspondence was conducted through the post office where all three parties always sat in CC.

Time does not spare anyone, the end of the deadline is already close and the finish line is not visible. A dissatisfied customer comes to the company and asks when they launch the project, because time is money (especially in the world of finance).

To the problems described above with a third party, the customer replies that he provided us with all the possibilities, took all necessary measures to correct the situation, and all further fault is the problem of communication between the company and the third party. The situation was getting out of hand and it was necessary to seek a solution as quickly as possible. There were two options:

Option 1 : The customer promised working WEB API services, even if he fulfills the promise, it is not our concern to fight with a third party, because this was not our responsibility at all.

The option has disappeared. Communicating with the customer, we realized that this road will not lead us anywhere, the customer will stand his ground, as before, and the company will keep his own, the problem will not be solved, the threat of disruption to the project. Since we are a small enterprise, and rumors of bad things are spreading quickly, this was not beneficial for us in the first place.

Option 2 : became our decision. We started to keep records: every time the company sent an email to a third party, we wrote it down, waited for an answer, fixed the time when it was received and plucked the lost minutes (elementary arithmetic).
It all looked something like this:

12:00 - sent a letter to a third party about the malfunction of the "x" service;
12:45 - received an answer that now a third party representative will meet and call back in 2 hours.
- Lost time 45 min

14:45 - sent a letter to a third party that we are still waiting for an answer;
- Lost time 2 hours.

15:30 - a third party called back and gave us an answer with a decision;
- Lost time 45 min.

At the end of the day, all this was beautifully executed in a pdf file, with its final result, which clearly expressed the lost time for the day through the fault of a third party and was sent to the customer. Especially red marked such "significant" answers as "call back in 2 hours . " The proof of each fad from the file was the email letters received by all three parties.

After exactly one week of accounting at the end of the day, problems with services suddenly decreased sharply and we began to effectively answer all the questions asked - in general, the ice was broken.

But we secretly learned that the customer had a meeting with a third party, which lasted a very long time and behind closed doors. What they talked about there remained behind these doors, but the fact is that a week later we launched the project and reached the status of “Happy Customer”.

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