Once when I was on a consulting gig, we were deep in the requirements gathering stage. We had full, cross-functional team meetings twice a week and additional meetings with selected team members throughout the week.
As the project manager and business analyst for the project, I was in every requirements meeting with every end-user.
This involved a lot of documentation. We documented meeting minutes, requirements documents and functional design documents. Countless emails were involved with the team members so that everyone was in the loop regarding meetings and discussions in which they were not involved.
My proofreading debacle
I remember once there was an issue with a business rule that contradicted one that had already been established and I needed to get clarification from the team.
What I intended to write was this:
Team: The Accounting team presented a business rule today regarding how we should amortize the cost of goods sold for items purchased internationally. This rule contradicts the business rule agreed upon in our requirements gathering meeting of last Tuesday. Please provide input on…
What I actually sent to them was:
Team: The Accounting team presented a business rule today regarding how we should amortize the cost of goods sold for items purchased internationally. Shit rule contradicts the business rule agreed upon in our requirements gathering meeting of last Tuesday. Please provide input on…
By accidently scrambling the letters of the word “this”, I sent a potentially offensive email to a large group of clients.
Within minutes of hitting the send button, I received a call from a member of the team who quite fortunately had a sense of humor. He wanted to know more about the shit rule. I was mortified when he pointed it out and I sent out an immediate email apologizing for the typo and correcting the text.
I was very fortunate that no one was offended and it blew over without any trouble. But it could have been much worse.
The lesson learned for me was ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS PROOFREED YOUR EMAILS. No matter how short it is, no matter who the audience, no matter how critical it is – proofreading it once and then do it again can save significant embarrassment.
I consider myself a pretty fast and accurate typist. But it never ceases to amaze me how often I find misspellings, grammatical errors and run-on sentences in my emails when I re-read them.
It only takes a few minutes, but it could save you embarrassment and credibility. Proofread anything that anybody else might read.
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.