IC-RHCE-engineers was Re: [ic] Taking a Poll

IC-Admin interchange@my-school.com
Thu, 19 Apr 2001 01:08:03 -0400 (EDT)

>>>>> David Adams <david@akopia.com> writes:
>>>>> We have also thought about making the process of hiring a consultant
>>>>> to do more complicated work more accessible, by putting together
>>>>> some kind of flat-rate pricing table for various tasks, like they
>>>>> have for auto repair.  These prices could be for work performed by
>>>>> Red Hat or by certified developers (meaning we would put some kind
>>>>> of referral program together).
>>>> On 17 Apr 2001, Doug Alcorn wrote:
>>>> I'm not sure what you're talking about here.  I know Midas and
>>>> Jiffy-Lube don't charge the same rates for the same work.  Granted,
>>>> every Midas charges the same rate.  And local, non-national, shops
>>>> certainly have their own rates.  The point is that not every
>>>> mechanic is created equal and they don't charge like it either.
>>>> I would be opposed to RedHat trying to set flat-rate fees for
>>>> tasks. They have a large amount of influence in this particular
>>>> niche.  If RH wants to setup and say, "Here's our flat rates for us
>>>> doing it," that's one thing.  But to say, "We're setting up an open
>>>> market for getting contract work done and here's the per job
>>>> cost," is  another. I disagree with you.
>>> Ron Dorman wrote :  
>>> The way I read it, is that RedHat would publish their set prices and
>>> would have RedHat personel and/or non-RedHat personel, RedHat 
>>> Certified Consultants that join the program do the work.
>> Jim Balcom wrote :
>> Most of the shops that I am familiar with use a 'Flat-Rate
>> Manual'. And, that says that it should take 8.7 hours to remove the
>> head and replace it. The shop then multiplies that by their hourly rate
>> to determine the cost. If the mechanic can do that job in 6 hours, then
>> they are ahead, and the customer still pays for 8.7 hours. If the
>> mechanic takes 10 hours to do the job, the customer still gets charged
>> for 8.7 hours.
>> I think that it's OK for RH to say, "We can install IC 4.6.7 on a
>> virgin server - with no catalogs in X hours." Then, "Once the server is
>> installed, we can install the 'Construct Demo' in X hours."
>> We're not talking money, only the amount of time that a professional
>> will need to do it.
>> I would like to think that in order for a contractor to be endorsed by
>> RH that they would then need to agree to bill only for those hours,
>> regardless of how long it took them to do the job.
>> This gives people protection against someone like me coming along and
>> offering to do a job that I am not qualified to do and billing them 10
>> hours for a 3 hour job.
> kyle wrote:
> Sorry, but I just had to pop in on this part. I have a two year
> associates degree in automotive mechanics. You are missing one key
> piece of information when quoting flat-rate prices ..... vehicle year
> and make!

> Each Vehicle and year (as well as various options) will determine the
> flat-rate, so to draw a parallel you would have to account for various
> OS systems, accesses restrictions, Perl Versions, installed libraries
> (and versions), etc just to chart all of the flat rates for a simple
> install of IC!
> And of course it gets more complicated if you talk about custom,
> vendor-specific "features" to add to a catalog...

I think the emphasis in David Adams comment might have been on "certified
IC engineer" ? 

Watching this list, my impression is that many developers learn IC
"on the job". This makes me believe that for their first client
they may have needed three month to build a complete site.
The second client takes them three weeks. The third to tenth client
takes them from a couple of hours to a couple of days. (That's
just my guess, I have no experience - and noone is so nice to tell
me :-/ ).

Let's say there were a referral database with IC developers (in the
early days of MiniVend Mike had put up a list of contact addresses
for MV hosting ISPs or MV catalog developers on his site).

How is someone, who is not a developer and who has not watched this
list from its start, able to recognize what the _real_ qualifications
of an IC developer, announcing his services, are ?

I am pretty sure, if I had a certain work to be done, that Mike would
finish the job in two hours, some of the list's members in ten to
twenty hours, many in a week, and some not at all. Let's say Mike
would charge $ 300.00, the next tier $125.OO, the third tier $ 60.00
and then some students $ 30.00. Out of these different groups in the 
pool, developers are either desperate to get the client or they have no
time at all. 

The one, who is desperate will promise their clients too few hours at
too low prices. He starts the job, realizes that he will loose money, if
he is going to finish the job at the quoted price, because he needs more
time. The customer goes through the process of renegotiating add-ons
etc, the developer gets frustrated and everybody is unhappy.

The only way I can see to protect both, client and consultant, would be
1. to use only RedHat certified IC _and_ RHCE engineers, most probably
   I would want them to have passed some other skills courses (or just
   a skills test) in other areas as well. 
2. to have someone put up a portofolio of at least two major live  sites
   he has made. 
3. and to put up a resume,

I could imagine that RH could set up a certain standard range of
prices for flat-rate jobs and for hourly rates. People who don't have
the certifications and would still want to compete could always
offer their services at other rates. I don't know if that is what
Doug had in mind ?

So, if I wanted to hire a consultant for the same project Mike
helped me with four years ago, I would for certainly  only
choose people who have built larger malls, are certified IC engineers,
have a long-time .nix system admin experience and can prove they have
working experience in Perl (may be that should be proven too by a
test). (I just make that as an example, I don't look for any consultant)

Let's say the hourly rate of such a person would be evaluated by the
RedHat staff at $ 125.00, I wonder how much bandwidth in the hourly 
rates you all would expect to see in a database of competing consultants.

I can't imagine that people, who all have the above credentials would
really be able to sell themselves too short.  I would expect that
most probably the price range varies not much. 

I know with what kind of knowledge one can get a "certificate for
Unix system admin" at a college. The knowledge of the certified person
can go from minimal to "decades on the job experience". From the "going
back to school mom, who has never touched a Unix machine" with no
experience to an old engineer, who gets a certificate  just to have a
paper to hang on the wall, so that clients are satisfied, you have
everything. The crowd is more diverse than the hodge-pot of people
celebrating 4th of July on the Washington Mall. 

There is so much bandwidth in knowledge of people out there, that I
think that it is necessary for RedHat's IC department to kind of set a
standard of excellence for people they refer to. How that can be achieved
I don't know, but I think, if the certification exams and the training
courses are designed properly, that it would help the clients tremendously
to choose a consultant and be served appropriately.   

I know that all the CS graduates and oldtimer unix warriors will say a
certificate means nothing. But OTOH, sometimes even a degree isn't much 
worth either, if the experience specific to IC and Perl is not
there. To make the things further complicated, sometimes people without
degrees and without certificates are excellent. So, you tell me, if that
situation is not reason to get headaches for _your_ potential clients. :-)