When IT consultants raise unnecessary panic, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain

Published on: May 13, 2017

In the light of day, some anonymous IT consultant will say that everything is easy.

In this blog, you’ll read about a feared scenario in any IT system or application, with all the negative implications that go with it: a crash. Thus, this article will give you a crash course on the notorious IT crash, pun not intended.

An “IT crash” happens when a technical issue that cannot be immediately explained or resolved occurs on a website, e-commerce, mobile app, or IT system.

A good example is an integration that suddenly stopped working, or a checkout functionality where problems unpredictably arise. Let’s broaden this definition by including this instance: a webshop is running very slowly, thus signaling a looming emergency.

Before you continue reading: I’m generalizing here and that there are many exceptions to what I write. Read this blog with glasses on.

A problematic case

Imagine you have a webshop that gets slower constantly in load time, and the time it takes to display a page in a browser rises steadily.

Your SEO/marketing/AdWords consultant tells you that if your site does not load faster anytime soon, your ranking in Google will fall—as well as your sales.

You talk to your IT supplier who developed your webshop and they keep telling you the same thing: they have checked the webshop and everything is all right. Your supplier talks about technical matters and drops jargons that are difficult for you to understand. You end up irritated and frustrated.

The following typically happens over one to two weeks:   

  1. You become more insistent towards your IT supplier for rhetoric changes, and you start demanding that they resolve the issue. Since they are the ones who built the system, you start thinking it must be their fault why the web pages are loading so slowly.
  2. Your SEO/marketing/AdWords consultant keeps telling you things should not be complicated to resolve. Though in reality, the solution depends on the developer’s technical skills.
  3. Some experienced sales-oriented IT consultants tend to make a situation worse by raising a panic mood at a time when panicking is the last thing you need.These sales staff are not involved in the development process, so their lack of overview leads to false assumptions and conclusions that must be explained and defended, usually by the same IT supplier assigned to solve the webshop’s slow page loading issue. Such situation removes the focus on what the main problem is and is detrimental to your project.
  4. Your IT supplier continues to defend itself while checking all possible and improbable things to find out what's wrong. Meanwhile, everyone can see that the web page is running slow.
  5. You send emails to your IT supplier back and forth, and every email results to misunderstandings.
  6. Your sales start to drop.
  7. Your SEO/marketing/AdWords consultant puts you in touch with another programmer or IT company that actually does their work. This IT supplier tells you that there are many bugs on the webshop that cause the pages to load slowly. In addition, they find other errors, such as an error generating duplicate content in the webshop; hence, you get rebuked by Google, and both your search rankings and sales are affected.
  8. You ask your current IT supplier to fix all errors without payment immediately.
  9. Your current IT supplier will not do it for free and refer to earlier agreements, emails, meetings, and problems with hosting companies or other third-party vendors.
  10. Your project goes in into a total meltdown, and you’re now at war with your IT supplier.
  11. You decide to find a new IT supplier to work with.
  12. The new IT supplier sets things up. The first thing they do is come up with a list of errors that should be corrected, many of which were already known to you.
  13. The new IT supplier begins to correct errors and make improvements. You pay a few extra fees for errors they find during development. Finally, after many years of searching, you find a suitable IT business partner, and you’re happy with this.
  14. Every issue that occurs on your webshop is caused by the mistakes made by your former IT supplier.
  15. One to two years later, you will be back to number 1 on this list.

How do you fix IT problems?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But usually, there is an easy explanation for about 90% of IT-related problems, which can be resolved quickly once the reason behind these errors is found. However, it can take time—depending on your programmer’s technical proficiency and experience—to find this very cause.

This list may not be complete, but here are several reasons that can explain why a system crash happens, why a site slows down, or why a functionality suddenly stops working:

1. The IT supplier has made an error in updating the webshop, and suddenly, it runs slowly.

  • Solution: Once the error has been identified, get it fixed immediately. Remember to never make live updates on a Friday, as live updates normally take up more than a day. It's always hard to get a programmer who wants to work on Saturdays and Sundays.

2. The hosting company has problems with the server you’re using.

  • Solution: Consult your hosting company immediately. Some hosting companies are honest and quick to fix the mistake; while others try to deny their accountability by blaming the developer. From a developer’s perspective, it can be difficult to prove that something is wrong with a server.

3. You suddenly get more site visitors in your online shop, as a result of an advertising campaign for instance. But your current server is not set to receive that many visitors, so it got slower.

  • Solution: Before you start intensive advertising campaigns, buy more CPU, RAM, and the like. Coordinate with your hosting company.

4.  The webshop is located on a server shared with other webshops wherein another webshop gets more visitors. The issue goes beyond your webshop. The case should not be like this at our technologically advanced time, but believe me when I tell you that this can happen.

  • Solution: Change your hosting company.

5. You have a third-party script or a small plugin installed that has an error, e.g., a script that reports user behavior. If the server that the script connects with gets an issue or an update error, the issue may go beyond your webshop’s scope. Facebook once had this problem, and it was solved within a few hours. The scenario can be different if you use scripts from smaller companies or freelancers. For bigger companies, it may take days, weeks, or months before this is discovered and resolved.

  • Solution: Contact the developer to have the script removed. If possible, do a weekly checkup if the issue has been resolved.

6. You have an SEO/marketing/AdWords consultant who did some small changes in the webshop. On the same occasion, an error appeared and even though your marketing consultant is capable of fixing it, he won’t because he doesn’t know your setup.

  • Solution: Contact your IT supplier immediately to make the changes.

7. A person with access to the webshop clicks a button in the admin settings that should not have been clicked, and suddenly there’s a functionality that does not work.

  • Solution: Limit the admin users or deactivate access of employees who don’t need rights to the system’s admin settings.

8. A module or service is installed without talking to the programmer, and this may have consequences.

  • Solution: Always talk to your IT supplier before installing a module or making any changes.

I could continue writing various scenarios and issues, but above are pieces of advice that will help solve most IT problems quickly.

Points to remember:

  • 90% of all IT problems are really small and can be resolved quickly if you focus on fixing the root of the problem.
  • There may be many reasons why a function or feature does not work. Be careful not to make hasty conclusions.
  • Too many cooks spoil the food. Be careful not to get too many people involved in the issue, each with their own brilliant suggestion and solution. This can work against finding the right solution. Shift the focus from explaining why things are as they are, to solving the problem at hand.
  • Six months after developing a feature, the technical method used in development may start to work incorrectly. Often there is a logical explanation to this. Find that explanation and understand why. Keep an open line of communication with your IT supplier.
  • Do not rely on old emails to prove that you’re right. First, because this can take time; second, it’s not written on those emails that ten minutes after it was sent, you have agreed to something else through a phone call.
  • I have never seen a substantial resolution to an IT problem through an email war. Never.
  • In problem solving, be sure not to involve people that have not been part of the development process. Doing so usually ends up with finger pointing.

There is no website or wesbhop where you cannot find fault no matter who developed it. Having said this, don’t panic if you’re told that there are errors in your online shop or website―you are not alone on this.

Throughout my entrepreneurship, I have worked with many SEO/marketing/AdWords consultants for the last two decades or so. I've learned that the loudest ones are not necessarily the best.

Send me a message by filling out this form, and I will be happy to tell you who, in my opinion, are truly professionals.