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What kind of emergency support do you need?

When your software breaks, how quickly do you expect the programmer to respond to your request for assistance?

Okay, that’s probably too broad. We both know that it depends on how broken it is.

The software I build for my customers is an integral part of their business. It might be their money scoop. Or it might run their day-to-day operation. Regardless, if it isn’t working at all, it affects their bottom line pretty quickly.

On the other hand, if it is minor bug that only affects a limited number of transactions, it probably isn’t an emergency.

Assuming it is VERY BROKEN, how quickly do you expect the programmer to respond?

Here’s another question: do they know that? Is it codified in your agreement? Or is this just an assumption you are making?

If your website or application is critical to your business, make sure you discuss your emergency response needs with your programmer. Find out BEFORE there is an emergency whether or not they are prepared to handle it. Not all freelancers are set up to handle emergencies – some only deal with one project at a time, and are not available to assist with issues unless there is a project in place. Unplanned emergencies are rarely “projects”.

Also understand that many programmers will charge something to be available for emergencies. It isn’t unreasonable for you to pay for the programmer to drop someone else’s work if you have an emergency.

And be specific. I don’t guarantee an immediate response – I provide a response to emergencies within 1 business day (or in some cases within 12 hours). Is that good enough? Or is it too much – perhaps you just need a response within 2 business days. How much money will it cost you if your app is completely down for 2 days?

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Comments  2

  1. Matthew Needham 16 Oct

    Hi Avonelle,

    Maybe an alternative is to use one developer for developing and another business for ongoing support.

    I've done this with my blog and found that it's been very cost effective. Especially when you're buying design and coding.

  2. Avonelle Lovhaug 16 Oct

    It is true that you can always hire separate companies for your original application and the ongoing support. However, it takes time to find and hire the right developer, so if you use separate companies you've double that effort. Also, it will take time for the support company to get comfortable with the application, and depending on how they charge, you might end up paying for that effort too.

    As with all things, YMMV. And of course, if you are unhappy with the original developer, you should not stay with them just because. But generally speaking, there is an advantage to using the same person for both, so if possible that's a good position to start from.    
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What the critics are saying...

As someone with over 20 years of software development experience and currently a small business owner, it has been a pleasure working with Avonelle. In addition to being a talented developer, Avonelle also has database expertise and system design skills. Avonelle is open minded and willing to discuss various methodologies for achieving a project goal. She is also not afraid to ask questions which is vital in a software development project. Her up-front project cost (not estimate) is very helpful in budgeting for a project.

--Dwayne Wolterstorff, Owner @ Fair