I n t ro d u c i n g t h e Te c h n o l o g y
Selecting an ASP Provider
Small and medium-sized organisations, including many in the cultural heritage sector,
will benefit financially by using ASPs for the outsourcing of software and services.
Another driving force might be the benefits gained by bringing together resources shared
by a number of small institutions.
It is worth stressing that interoperability is more complicated than it may initially
appear to decision-makers.The following issues will have to be clarified thoroughly in
order to avoid potential pitfalls:
- What procedures for keeping data secure does the ASP have in place?
- What are the procedures for preventing hacker attacks?
- How often are data backed up, what methods are used for this, and how is the
- What is the standard of technical and application support offered by the ASP?
- Are the business processes within the ASP clearly defined, e.g. via ISO certificates
guaranteeing their quality?
- What company infrastructure and business procedures are dedicated to ensuring reli-
ability? (The fact that the ASP industry is relatively new and in a high-growth phase
may itself be considered a risk.)
- Are there contingency plans in place to deal with difficulties and disasters such as
power loss, fire, or flood?
- What options are available for data migration from the in-house system(s)?
- What are the conditions for terminating the agreement? For example, will the data
be returned to the customer in the case of contract termination, and if so on what
media type and in what format?
- How long has the ASP been in business? Does it have a record of serving similar
organisations? What do the clients have to say about its services?
- How well suited is the existing software to the organisation's needs? Can it be
customised, and if so to what extent?
- Has the outsourced software been used long enough? Are there reports by current
users of any specific malfunctions?
- Are the operating systems of the ASP and the user organisation compatible? If not,
how quickly and easily can this be overcome?
- What is the quality of the technical support? Is there information available on the
number of in-house staff and their ratio to the number of installations? Is there a
reliable helpdesk in place?
- How well do the organisation's strategies for organisational development (and
respective software changes) match the outsourced software? How responsive is the
ASP to customers' specific needs?
- If necessary, would the ASP be willing and able to develop functionality not currently
offered by the software?
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