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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Utah
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    5

    Unanswered: Adversarial Vendors

    I'm working with a vendors (Stockamp & Assoc.) We hired them for the Clinic Ontrac application (SQL Server based) and they highly customized it to work in our hospital. They left after implementing the software in 3 of our 46 clinics. As I add more clincs to the system I continuously run into issues. Stockamps response to the problems is : "The system was working fine when we left what have you done with it?"
    I'm continually given contradictory solutions to problems, then being blamed for modifying their system.
    What are others doing when working with vendors that assume this type of adversarial position?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    2,232
    This is difficult to answer - can you be more specific. However, in my experiences - go up the chain until it is addressed and resolved. Also, if possible, make sure you are involved with the contract process (most companies make assumptions and end up getting burned).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Utah
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    5
    Originally posted by rnealejr
    This is difficult to answer - can you be more specific. However, in my experiences - go up the chain until it is addressed and resolved. Also, if possible, make sure you are involved with the contract process (most companies make assumptions and end up getting burned).
    Here is my latest example. They have a form that allows me to add new clinics and specifics for that clinic. I added 2 new clinics into a test system and it failed. After spending 8 hours running through the whole process of adding a clinic (many forms are used and they have drop down boxes that are very error prone) , checking my data entry and trying to understand the strange error I was receiving, I finally sent an email to their tech support with the error, what I had done and asked for recommendations.
    It turns out the forms' data are sent through to a SQL variable that only holds 8000 characters. Stockamp & Associates had known of the problem for many months and had not notified us, posted an issue to a log ... I escalated the problem up their ladder and the response from the high ups is that I should have been monitoring the number of characters I put into their form. I asked for documentation or a utility for monitoring the characters and they have none. They fixed the problem and now the variable holds 16,000 characters. I now have 16 of 46 clinics clinics in the system so I'm less than half way done, so even though they have doubled the limitation I am certain to hit the limit again. To monitor I will now have to count characters in their cludgy forms and hope I don't accidently modify something in the dropdowns and pray that I don't lose count!

    In another instance, I was testing adding a new clinic and had modified one of Stockamps' stored procedures in a test database to view dates beyond those available in their forms (as I was shown by their trainer). One of Stockamps' analysts is also working on fixing other bugs. I had no idea they were using my test database because I set up a different database for them to use. The next day when I was told they implemented some fixes into our live server. By 10AM the live server was no longer functioning. I started looking into the problem and found that the analyst had modified some lines of the same stored procedure, gotten them to work, then replaced the sproc on the live server with the entire sproc from the test server - which included my modification. I found the problem and asked that they fix it (I'm afraid to touch sprocs in the live server for fear of blame) and was told that I had created the problem and needed to fix it myself, and that I was not communicating modifications I was making.

    In another instance Stockamps DBA told me I could run sp_spaceused and truncate any large history tables to recoop some space (the system grows over 100 mb/day and although they have a purge, I was told it didn't function properly so I was not to use it). I truncated some tables in my test database to see the results. Again Stockamp used my test database to test some of their fixes and they kept failing. I found the problem and realized that the truncation was causing the problem. Again I was told that the problem was caused by me and the modifications I was making to their system.

    I acknowledge that my truncation caused the problem, but I was acting under Stockamps directions and when the problem arose I researched the problem and figured it out. I admit my fault and want to move on and keep working with them to get the system functional, but anytime something goes wrong I am blamed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Posts
    1,618
    Well part of the problem seems to be that they are unwilling to take blame/responsibility for anything....

    The first step in resolving this is to get them to document everything they recommend to you. Get everything in writing and communicate back to them in writing. Then when an issue arises you can point to the communication that has taken place and show that they were at fault. Then they realy have no choice but to accept some responsibility (or look like total dickheads).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    2,232
    I would start an email chain - letting the tech support know that you will email any recommendations from them for confirmation. Next, disable their ability to touch YOUR test database - that will eliminate both of you from overlapping code. Lastly, email their vp of sales/tech support with the list of issues - carbon copy the highest ranking official in your company that was responsible for the contract with the vendor(s) (but communicate with this person the problems and get their support). As far as the forms issue - that I would let your company know as a major flaw in the product. They should have validation on the forms based on their limitations - which should also be documented in their product. I would investigate that further.

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