Clients of Adventi are currently seeing an error page when trying to contact them for support through their web site:
Alternatively, at the smaller end of the scale, your IT Support Company (a middle aged man with a screwdriver and a smart car) may currently be stranded in Marbella, grounded by Volcanic ash being spewed out by an Icelandic volcano.
It goes without saying that nowadays a professional firm, like any business, is incredibly reliant on technology and cannot afford to be in a situation where they have no one to support them. Some things, like an administration are virtually impossible to predict and any amount of Risk Assessment by your supplier would not help as the very structure which is being risk assessed has collapsed. It could definitely be argued however that an internal risk assessment of the company supporting your main services should be part of your overall contingency plan. Companies often look at the systems when conducting such a risk assessment but rarely at the suppliers themselves.
If your main IT Support does disappear it can be a very real concern especially as most firms now have some form of centralised email or practise management system. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but the following tips are worth considering when taking on a new supplier or when looking to move from your existing one (who is stranded in Marbella or in discussions with HMRC)
1: Check your contract
Support contracts and Terms and Conditions are often glossed over in the world of IT. Go through them thoroughly and check what happens if key people are unavailable or if SLA’s are breached. It is also key to understand what happens if the company is bought out and if you have an option to move to a new supplier.
2: How resilient are your suppliers?
Ask them about their risk assessment, their contingency plans. If they are a small firm find out what happens if the ‘main’ techy gets stranded by a volcanic eruption in Iceland.
3: Do they have your best interests at heart?
Many IT firms are grown quickly to generate a quick return for the investors when they sell out. Do you want to be just a contract worth £XXX in resale? Big is not always best and a smaller firm with an established history will value you more, be more flexible and will be far more keen to nature you as a client. You will also be more likely to have regular direct contact with the owner and not just your account manager, who is ultimately, expendable.
4: Are they a viable business?
This may not seem obvious but it is not a bad idea to ask the business owner about the plans for the business, is it profitable, how long have they been trading for. If they are cagey then investigate further or steer clear.
5: Have a contingency plan in place
You have one for your server blowing up (if not you should!) so why not have one for your IT Supplier going into administration. Never be afraid to speak to other suppliers in the background even if you are happy with your current one. You never know what’s around the corner.