Hold IT firms to higher standards

Over the past four years, I have had a difficult journey in dealing with IT firms while trying to build an effective online business.

I have owned eight websites. Each time, I am given lots of promises by the IT firms, but these are followed by mediocre work and no accountability.

In one case, less than a year after being set up, my business' membership subscription system failed to detect expiry dates and lost thousands of dollars.

During a fund-raising campaign, the website was slow to load and customers could not pay online.

Explanations given by the IT staff were full of incomprehensible technical jargon, but ultimately boiled down to "temporary glitch".

Another common response from these firms is "feature is not in because you didn't say you wanted it".

But how would a first-time buyer know what options there are and the differences between them? When I insisted on making improvements, the only choice I was given was to set up another website.

These problems keep recurring.

IT firms tend to use the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) subsidies to justify their high costs. They do not take the initiative to show their portfolio or similar works done in the past.

In fact, in one case, when I insisted on seeing the firm's past work, it admitted to having no experience in what I wanted.

In truth, I am relieved that the PIC scheme is ending and that IT firms will have to set their prices according to their skills.

IT companies need to take a hard look at themselves. It is high time we had stricter regulations and standards in the IT industry. Business owners who are not tech-savvy need to be protected and have a proper channel to seek help.

Maddy Lim Kah Hoe (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2017, with the headline 'Hold IT firms to higher standards'. Print Edition | Subscribe