Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Ultimate Documentation: Your Own Demise

Welcome to the big leagues.

One of our clients handles extremely sensitive data for major national corporations. Their security and data handling procedures were audited this week and we were obviously a focus of that audit.

This client is on total managed services. They have zero technical support in-house. They have drunk the kool-aid and rely on us completely for managed services.

So the question is: What happens when . . .

- KPEnterprises goes out of business?
- KPEnterprises has an employee go crazy?
- KPEnterprises' principals are both killed in a horrible toaster oven accident?
- Client decides, for whatever reason, that they no longer wish to do business with KPE?
- There is a pandemic and KPEnterprises cannot perform their duties?

And then the auditor spoke a phrase which, thanks to Vlad Mazek, burned through my heart:

"KPEnterprises is the single point of failure in your technical support."

How do you transfer knowledge and procedures to another support organization? How do you audit the policies, procedures, and performance of KPE?

They did not require any action, but asked that we all think about it.

Of course we decided to take action.

We are now documenting the procedure for how this client would make a smooth transition away from our company. This will include

- Immediate lockdown procedures
- Acquisition of a new support company that is properly credentialed and trained
- Testing all documented procedures by a third party tech support company
- Documenting schedules for all procedures
- Performing daily, weekly, and monthly procedures in-house or via another company
- Having our network documentation binder audited for completeness and clarity
- and so forth

After all, one of our big selling points is that "Any qualified technician should be able to open that binder and find everything they need to know about supporting your business." While we believe that's true, this will be the real test.

Not quite ISO 9000, but a step in that direction.


If we give them excellent tech support, they won't ever leave us. But if something we can't foresee happens, they need to stay in business. So it makes perfect sense.

Between 911 and Katrina, I no longer believe that I can predict what "could" go wrong. Things can go wrong that you never imagined.

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