I live in mountainous Northwest Montana. I have always been intrigued by an attitude from my US Forrest Service friends who each summer tell me they are, “hoping there are lots of big forest fires this summer”. What…I thought Smokey the Bear wanted to prevent forest fires. But no, many of those who work for the US Forrest Service actually depend on fighting fires to provide the finances for their vacations and Holidays. Now let me be quick to say these people do not start fires nor encourage starting fires, it just works out that forest disasters are great paydays.
As inconsistent as that may seem, in the world of technology we face the same issues. Having talked with a lot of computer techs who own small businesses about the advantages of Linux, many of them have told me they would be crazy to encourage Linux as they are sitting on a gold mine with Microsoft. Many shops keep the doors open by cleaning and doing repairs caused by viruses.
It must be a part of life, as when you look at Linux consulting you have the same dilemma. Consulting without education and documentation is just as empty and self serving as those in the US Forrest Service who hope for fires or those who repair your virus laden Windows machine hoping to strike it rich once again when you click on the tempting email. Linux consultants can live in that “outer zone” that makes them special and prevents them from communicating the changes they made for the client in a way that educates the client, thus rendering the consultant unnecessary. Or, neglecting documenting changes for the client, forcing the client to call for more help down the road when the system updates.
It seems we as human beings have a tendency to look out for ourselves, naturally. Each of these examples creates a dilemma, one that really demonstrates serious inconsistencies. As a client shopping for Linux consulting you should request these two factors to keep Linux consultants consistent. First, request a short training session where the consultant walks you through exactly what was done and explains why each step was taken. Second, you should request a written, detailed PDF of the steps that were taken so that you can repeat the process if you needed to at a later time.
Yes, we all have a tendency to be inconsistent, creating dilemmas as we walk through life, but accountability is the one aspect that brings sanity to it all. Make your Linux consultant accountable.