Pull your head in son

Pull your head in son

On Tender

It’s hard not to be arrogant when you’re brilliant. People who work in IT know this. Because they're brilliant.

They can understand binary code (on off off on off on off on = 139, am I right?) and they can look at packets of blips, tell us where these mysterious dots are going, where they’ve come from and what they mean. IT people know about radio signals and routers; flat screens and pocket screens. They know how to talk to computers in a language that may as well be Klingon. Some of them probably do know Klingon.

Of course, not every brilliant IT person is arrogant. But if you try to claim you’re not arrogant after being accused of being arrogance, that is a form of arrogance itself. In short you’re stuck if someone points the stick at you. You are an arrogant sod and you now have to wear the badge until all those people around you drop dead of old age, or you move towns, whichever comes first.

I once asked a very senior sales dude if he knew of a tech I could talk to about boosting existing 3G signals from a high place to a low valley where there was scant coverage.

“A tech,” he exclaimed. “Don’t ask those dim-wits.”

The salesman went on to explain what I needed.

“Who do you think has been selling solutions for the past twenty years?" he added. "Techs are idiots.”

“Techs can’t soluce an opportunity if it’s not on Google,” he continued, using a term whose meaning eludes me to this day. “Sales people know what they are doing because they stuck with the problem and don’t any make any money if all goes pear-shaped.”

So maybe IT people are not absolutely brilliant at everything. If that includes responding to a tender, IT people may be bad because they think they are good. They assume that proposing a price for a product is easy and all you have to do is write some words on a few A4s and put it in the snail mail.

It’s this arrogance that makes tendering such a crappy part of an IT firm's business. It’s a well known fact that nobody likes doing it. It’s a pain in the arse, it takes too long, it’s boring and you have very little chance of success.

I had this conversation very recently with a specialist in the tendering business. He told me tendering was a very professional part of the marketing process for many industries, including construction and manufacturing. IT people, he said, are noted for how badly they do it. Maybe because they’re all left-brain thinkers. Maybe because they think they’re so great at everything that a simple marketing exercise manner is a doddle.

It should be but it’s not.

The building industry is also full of arrogant blokes. Those companies tender a lot for business. But they don’t naturally go near Microsoft Word. Paperwork is unnatural to these gruff types and they tend to leave it alone. Leave it to the pros, and as a result their tenders are slick, polished, deploy the relevant information in concise and clear formats and generally get the deals they’re intended for.

So maybe if you're in IT, you should consult with someone who does this for a living.

Because if you think know everything, you probably don’t.

Or as they used to say on the railways, “pull your head in son.”

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