Isn't it nice to be wanted? (OK, maybe not...)

IT consultant pilot fish is working on a project that's winding down -- but the client likes his work, and in short order he's assigned to a new one.

"Very rapidly I became the lead technical resource on the project team, both in terms of skill set and knowledge of the system, as others changed roles or employers," says fish.

"It reached the point that the client wanted me to be on call to provide level-2 support for the system, as production ran most nights of the month."

Not surprisingly, fish doesn't want to be constantly on call. Neither does his marketer at the consulting company, who's concerned about the risk of burnout. But no one wants to tell the client no.

Fortunately, the marketer comes up with a brilliant solution: charging an hour of billable time for each day on call, plus a four-hour minimum billing increment for on-call support. That would be way too expensive for the client to agree to, right?

No, it turns out -- the client OKs the added costs. Result: Fish is constantly on call, though he's making a lot more money as his billable hours go through the roof.

In time, that does become a problem for the client-side manager, who comes up with his own brilliant cost-control solution: limiting fish to 40 billable hours a week. But because just being on-call for a week rings up seven billable hours, and each time fish is called rings up at least another four billable hours, that mainly means fish gets a lot of days off.

"That situation did motivate the client's management to get other team members up to speed to be able to take the pager, since there was no extra charge for their time," fish says. "Even so, I still had to take my turn in rotation and act as level-3 support on occasion.

"And the client kept trying to hire me. They just couldn't understand why I didn't jump at the chance!"

Sharky would jump at the chance to tell your true tale of IT life. Just send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com. I'll file off the identifying marks, and you'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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