Random geekery since 2005.

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The Art of CYA

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It seems in every project, there will be issues. Whether it’s a disagreement about hours, functionality, or scope, someone will take issue with something. It is because of this that I end up dedicating a significant portion of my time to a game I call CYA. (That’s Cover Your Ass, as an acronym.)

I have a current client who has managed to escalate things to the point where we might just be shipping what we’ve got finished at this point, only to walk away from it.

Here’s rules of the game of CYA:

1) Never, NEVER, Ever, delete an email. Sort ’em, file ’em, do what you may, but have all of them ready at a moment’s notice.

2) Send an email summarizing points from any phone call. This is the one that always comes back to haunt you. Some agreement was made in a phone call, and now there’s no documentation to back it up. If decisions were made (or even if decisions were postponed), document it. That way, when someone screams that they don’t remember something, you can drudge out that old, dusty email to remind them.

3) Use “Read Receipts” whenever possible. While sending an email is excellent backup, it’s not the end of your responsibility. You still need to make sure that the receipient actually got it. Read receipts let you know the exact moment it was opened, and in many cases, even lets you know if they deleted before it was read.

4) Keep your management informed. Those individuals that will be involved when an issue gets escalated are much more likely to back you up if you’ve kept them in the loop to this point. If they’re blindsided by an issue, they are much more likely to be skeptical of your side.

In all, if you’re doing a good job, make sure it’s documented. If you’re slacking, there’s no saving you on Escalation Day.


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