Back at BritBreak after my brief encounter with chocolate manufacturer Lacto, I found that nothing had happened on the PC Centre in my absence. The opening date was to have been 5 January, which meant potential difficulties at my New Year review with IT director Mike Rapton and his team. I quickly ran through 1997's achievements, finishing with the enormous success of the Technology Fair. There were mutterings from DP manager, Arnold Potter. "There's only one thing worse than users who don't know what they're talking about," he fumed. "Users who do know what they're talking about. We've had half a dozen requests for projects using technology we didn't even know exist." I rapidly changed the subject. "The new PC Centre is proceeding on schedule," I announced. "It will be opened by Sir Sidney Stamp on 2 February." "Wasn't it due a month before?" asked Potter, eager to make a point. "That might be what consultants call on schedule, but in the DP department, it'd be an over-run." I was ready for this. "It's true that we pencilled in a slightly earlier date, but the MD couldn't make it. Anyway, we wouldn't want to embarrass your chaps. Apparently the ordering system isn't finished. The funny thing is, your project manager didn't call it an over-run. He said it was an error bar readjustment." Potter couldn't think of anything to say, he just went an interesting colour. In fact the February date is still risky, as we are having trouble getting our hardware in place. However, as a consultant it is my duty to explore risks. If a BritBreak manager takes risks and comes unstuck he is in trouble. If I take risks and something goes wrong, I can blame it on factors beyond our control. Somehow I'm okay, and the BritBreak manager is still in trouble. On the other hand, if the risk pays off, it is clearly down to the added benefit of using SMcTR, and we can hike up our day rate. One specific hardware problem involved the state-of-the-art presentation room. The firm that was outfitting the room couldn't get the projector I wanted in time. They could have downgraded the spec, but I held out. If it's not the latest and best, it simply won't impress the directors, and a major part of the opening was going to be a whizzy presentation to Sir Sidney and his colleagues. After much head scratching, the suppliers admitted they did have one of the projectors, but it was destined for BritBreak's newly refurbished Data Centre. No competition; I authorised the transfer straight away. Perhaps I should have mentioned it to the Data Centre manager, but he would only have complained. There are times when direct action is called for. I'll take him to one side at the opening; I'm sure he'll understand with a glass of champagne in his hand, and the MD by his shoulder.
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