SFO Syndrome – The Hidden Menace

muppets…or watch out for the Muppets…

Again and again get a very similar request:

Can you move/fix/migrate/upgrade our web site please?

… and every time I get a similar reason for the request:

There was a bloke who used to look after us, but he’s gone now…

This is (un)commonly known as SFO Syndrome – Supplier Fecked Off!

Cleaning up after SFO is a service we regularly perform for clients, and sometimes it is quite shocking to see the mess that a previous supplier has left behind. (I am often led to muse that the provider may have disappeared because they may have realised that the game was up!) I have written before about this (see ‘Open Source and Open Standards’) but it is worth restating:

If a quote is to good to be true, then it usually is!


This applies to all aspects of you IT project, not just coding and design of a web site. We have seen people invest reasonable amounts of time and effort to implement an online presence only to ruin it all by choosing a cheap and nasty web hosting provider.

If the provider is selling you a hosted solution, then watch out.

Not that there is anything wrong with them (I am a big fan of GMail), but very few companies have the infrastructure that Google has, and hosting is something that must be done right.

You should also ask the question, what happens to my hosted solution if the host goes out of business? Do I have access to my data? Who owns the code?

We use our own solution based on [insert proprietary solution here]

All our greatest successes in fixing/moving an hospitalised/hacked/broken/out of date application came about because it was based on open standards and/or open source software. The minute you go the proprietary route, you run the risk of being involved with a one person show.

Ask about support

What happens when the web site goes down? Remember, nothing is 100% perfect. Support is critical. Ironically, you may not notice this as much – after all support is generally most needed when something goes wrong, so if all is running well, you may well ask yourself why you need your support contract at all.

However support is more important that just fixing problems. Make sure that preventative maintenance is included in your support contract. All software has bugs, and bugs get discovered all the time. It is how they are managed that makes the difference.

We stand over everything we do, make sure your supplier does…

So, watch out – there’s Muppets about!

Posted in Opinion

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