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Are you an IT Victim?

Mark Edwards

Recently we started website design work for two new clients who have been the victim of unscrupulous I.T. people or website designers. Both of them are Financial Planners. I want to tell something of their stories and give you some ideas of how to avoid a similar situation yourself.

The first client was working with a large website designer. I first spoke to her after she had paid $33,000 after 8 months of work by a team of people including a Project Manager, a Graphic Artist, a Programmer, and a Designer. The website was not operational and 5 months overdue when I had a quick look over it. There were a few obvious things I saw which set alarm bells ringing. After discussing the design of the site with the owner I realised this job was completely off the rails and the firm doing the work were rank amateurs completely lacking the competence to ever build an online business like this!

When they presented her with a final payment demand for $30,000 to take the design total to a whopping $63,000 we were asked to step in and help. Six weeks later we had completely redesigned the site both graphically and functionally and were going through final user testing before completing the job.

The second client was left with a morass of problems after the "departure" of his IT staff. I will mention one of these problems. He had been persuaded that it was necessary to host his website in house. To this end he was paying $560 per month for a high-speed Internet connection. When I analysed his needs, I recomended he host his website externally and use a much simpler Internet connection solution for around $80 per month. A significant saving!

Whilst it is sometimes difficult to tell there the good value ends and the rip-off begins these above two cases are fairly clear. Unfortunately, for both of these clients, they were told stories which were, at best, grossly ill-informed, and at worst, blatant lies, to justify the exorbitant fees and charges.

We find it particularly insulting that people who are grossly incompetent and whose skill set is vastly inferior to ours believe that they are for some reason able to demand fees which are a multiple of our own! Worse is when we hear that they have found a victim who will pay for work which can only be described as amateurish.

So what can you do to avoid this problem or get out of an existing problem?

Firstly, don't believe that your problem or requirement is so complex that no one else could understand it. We have worked with many offline and online corporations both nationally and internationally and never found a problem that was incomprehensible or insoluble.

Secondly, here is a simple yet effective list of questions for your website designer or IT person:

Can they explain what they are doing in terms that you can understand?

[If not, how will they build in-house or external systems that you, your staff and your clients can use easily?]

Do they understand your business and your goals?

[If not will their final product meet your requirements?]

Do they understand ANYTHING about running a business?

[If not, how can they understand the time and monetary pressures we all face?]

Do they use plain English or programming jargon and industry acronyms?

[Are they trying to bamboozle you with a lot of mumbo-jumbo so you are less able to question their costs?]

Are their delivery dates always met?

[Can they manage their resources and your project effectively?]

Is their first response to a problem with your hardware or software that it is a virus or power surge?

[Are they really competent to maintain their own systems?]

We satisfy all of these requirements for our clients without any difficulty. We do not demand a high degree of computer literacy of any of our clients. Our clients understand exactly what we will do and why. When we are finished our clients are confident to use the systems and software we develop for them.

If you have an IT or web design issue which has been causing you problems or you are about to commence one and need some guidance, contact us. Even if we don't do the work for you, perhaps we can give you some sound advice to help avoid being an IT victim.

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