I had a potential client contact us a while ago. We hadn’t dealt with them before and they didn’t end up retaining us - largely, I think, because the message about how much trouble they were in might have been a bit too unpalatable to heed.
They’re in a world of pain through a combination of bad luck and poor planning although, to be fair, it’s more of the latter.
I can’t help you with bad luck but I can prompt you to plan for it.
If you ship software, please ask yourself these questions:
- If you had to ship a build tomorrow, could you?
- How long would it take? Be honest - a day? A week? A month? A year? Longer?
- What dependencies do you have that could cause you to need to ship one?
- Third-party web services?
- iOS provisioning profiles?
- Expired x.509 certificates?
- Changes to certificate revocation lists?
- A critical security flaw?
- A leap-year bug?
- A leap-second bug?
- An operating system patch?
- What monitoring do you have in place so that you’re the first to know about any of these problems?
- How much will it hurt if any of these fails?
- How quickly do you need to be back up and running?
- How many people are going to sue you if your software/platform/application falls down? And for how much?
- How much do you stand to lose?
Back to that potential client: I honestly don’t think their business is going to survive this particular flavour of disaster. In other words, I think the entire company is going to fold - and all because someone else moved their cheese and they didn’t have a contingency plan. I wish them the best but I can’t help them now - not at this late stage.
I can’t help them but I can remind you that the unexpected does happen, and will to you at some point. If your answers to any of the questions above frighten you… better me than fate :)
UPDATE: It brings me no happiness to report that they indeed did go bankrupt. Please don’t let that happen to you for such a preventable reason.