BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : MARCH 5, 2001 ISSUE
SPECIAL REPORT

Survival Tools


Here's how to avoid trouble when you buy software delivered over the Net by an application service provider.

DO A BACKGROUND CHECK
An ASP dishes up software that is vital to your business, so make sure the company has a track record for reliability. Does it have enough financial backing to stay in business? If your ASP goes under, it could take your company data with it.

GET A SERVICE GUARANTEE
A high-quality ASP offers contracts, guaranteeing speed and reliability of service. Customers usually pay more for this, but it may be worth it. In some cases, the ASP will refund payments if it fails to meet obligations.

PLAN FOR A DISASTER
Prepare for the worst. That means lining up an alternative ASP. Consider putting something in your contract requiring the ASP to transfer your company data to another service provider if it runs into trouble.

GET INSURANCE
Yes, there is such a thing. In 2000, insurers such as Lloyd's of London began offering policies to deal with ASP issues like lost data and computer viruses. Ask your ASP if it offers insurance. If not, get a policy from another source.



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