Lack of Proper Diligence puts UK Businesses at Risk

At a time when UK businesses are struggling to recover during the economic downturn, many are putting themselves at further risk by not carrying out in-depth checks on their maintenance service providers. New research published today reveals that the vast majority (87%) of respondents are focused on checking financial stability at the expense of critical factors such as the ability to meet key industry standards, customer references or manufacturer backed technical assistance.

Commissioned by Networks First (www.networksfirst.co.uk), an independent provider of support services for network infrastructures, the research revealed that only 61% considered industry accreditations – both at company and engineer level – either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when performing due diligence. A further 45% also did not place much importance on quality and security standards such as ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 or customer references (38%).

Commenting on the findings, Peter Titmus, managing director, Networks First, said: “Whilst it is heartening that most companies realise the significance of only doing business with financially stable companies, we were surprised that in today’s business climate that it was not 100%. If your service provider goes out of business, it will make no difference if you’ve already paid for two years’ support – you could suddenly find yourself with none at all.”

Titmus continues: “It is also shocking to see the number of businesses who are still not checking a potential new partner’s ability to meet a certain level of standard in terms of both quality and security. Without these checks in place, they are clearly putting their companies at risk.”

Nearly one in two (47%) respondents placed importance on the ability of a provider to offer a ‘one stop shop’ of services. However, Titmus explains: “Whilst it is important that service providers are able to provide support across a whole spectrum of products and manufacturers, without checking on the qualifications or training of the consultants involved, you could be left high and dry. It is far too easy for unscrupulous providers to overpromise and under-deliver which is why due diligence becomes so vital if a company wants to ensure its IT and communications network remains up and running no matter what the circumstances.”

The area of due diligence which UK businesses deemed least important was in relation to if the service provider had access to manufacturer technical assistance centres, with only 38% rating this as ‘important’ or ‘very important’. Titmus warns: “Without manufacturer backed technical assistance support, you can’t be sure your equipment is fully registered and therefore meeting legal requirements. It also puts you at risk of not getting the appropriate technical updates as they become available or having the necessary support when required. UK businesses really need to be thinking about how critical they consider their IT networks and putting far more emphasis on due diligence in this area.