TSB: a lesson for contractors


With the fallout still rumbling on from the complete failure that was the introduction of TSB’s new IT system in April, it really does highlight just how badly things can go wrong – particularly for IT contractors working with big companies.

Mistakes can’t be just “dealt with” without anyone noticing and there’s the potential to cause massive disruption to a lot of people. Also worthy of note here is the recent fiasco at Northern Rail: when things go wrong they go spectacularly and publicly wrong.

So, what can contractors, particularly IT contractors, learn from these massive, disruptive and very, very public debacles? Here are a few lessons that could be learnt.

Plan every possible scenario

Don’t just assume things will run smoothly because you’re good at your job. Plan for every possible scenario from best case right through worst case and down to apocalyptic. Plan what you will do in those situations, what will your back up be, how you will investigate and so on. In short, how will you minimise any damage done.

Test, test and test again

This can apply no matter what role you’re in. In IT, this might mean making sure everything is fully tested in a testing/staging environment before sending it live is even considered. This is to ensure that a) everything works and that you’re not about to inflict a huge omnishambles on the world, and b) if something does go wrong, you can demonstrate that you did everything in your power to prevent it.

If you’re, for instance, a freelance copywriter, it means proofreading every last word more than once to ensure that you’re not about to email thousands of customers with something offensive. All work should be tested, checked and tested again before the public so much as hears about it.

Manage expectations

If your client wants their new software to go live on Friday, but you know it won’t be ready until the following Wednesday, tell them this. Although deadlines are important, most clients would rather nudge a deadline back than send out something that’s not working. So, keep clients informed from the get-go to manage their expectations.

Get professional indemnity cover

Professional indemnity insurance covers you should a client make a claim against you for damage to their business due to your negligence or poor work. It means that any compensation is paid by your insurance company so you don’t have to pay it out of your own pocket. If you’re dealing with something the size of the TSB fiasco, compensation could run into the millions, so you need to make sure you have adequate cover – otherwise you could find yourself in a dreadful situation because of one mistake.

The team at Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance can help you to ensure you are suitably covered for your industry. Our insurance package includes professional indemnity cover as standard. To speak to our experts, call us on 01242 808740 or answer some simple online questions to get a quote.

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