No question about it, the information technology business is global in reach and implementation. And while working with an IT partner in the same city can be painful enough, working with a partner 12 time zones away is fraught with risk and uncertainty. In the wake of the recent financial fraud scandal that engulfed Satyam Systems, John Castleman, president and CEO of Alliance Global Services, is pushing for an "IT Partner Bill of Rights" that states that enterprises should expect better from their IT partners.
Enterprises work with outsourcers and service providers across the globe, and now we are moving to reliance on cloud computing providers. More services are coming from outside the firewall. It's time to push for greater clarity and true partnerships -- not just in name only. How many of you have seen IT providers disappear into the woodwork once the contract is signed? How well do you know and work with your IT partners?
On this day, the 19th of January in the year 2009, we in the field of information technology services set forth a new set of standards by which clients and service providers shall interact to form unmistakable and mutually beneficial partnerships. Under this global declaration all clients of IT services and outsourcing firms shall have:
1. The right to demand transparency throughout every step of an engagement – from sales to contracting to delivery and termination
2. The right to fully understand the nature and character of their IT partner and the service that it provides to them
3. The right to fully understand the financial viability of their IT partner
4. The right to be made aware of any impending legal charges against their IT partner should they arise as soon as they occur
5. The right to arrive at a mutually agreed upon definition of the term trusted partner
6. The right to expect a clear contract that defines fees and expenses upfront before any agreement is signed
7. The right to terminate a relationship with no financial penalty in the event of any admitted fraudulent activity
8. The right to demand the existence of a truly independent board of advisors
9. The right to expect the presence of an independent financial auditor accompanied by a set of checks and balances
10. The right to demand accountability for any actions taken within the scope of a technology project or as part of a firm’s broader business practices.
In an accompanying statement, Castleman points out that issues with IT partnerships aren't just about dealing with offshore vendors. "It’s an issue of the perceived viability, accountability and credibility of technology partners and business partners everywhere," he says. "We have seen first-hand in the financial sector how several ill-informed decisions can create instabilities in the broader global system and we’re not willing to let history repeat itself in our industry."