UK: Choose a Year 2000 partner.

UK: Choose a Year 2000 partner. - How to ensure your software audit service provider is up to the job.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

How to ensure your software audit service provider is up to the job.

There has been a rash of business start-ups, which call themselves 'experts', jumping on the millennium bug bandwagon. As a result, the risk that companies will be disappointed by the service levels and results they receive - and overcharged in the process - has increased. At the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), we are taking numerous calls from businesses which have been dissatisfied with the service they have received so far, and ask us for help.

So, here are a few tips to differentiate the reputable audit service provider from the unscrupulous. You should draw up an agreement with your chosen Year 2000 partner. In it, make sure they confirm in writing that:

- They have accepted an assignment they are qualified to undertake

- The team assigned to the task is competent, knowledgeable and properly managed to handle your Year 2000 project

- They respect the confidentiality of all client information before, during and after the assignment

- They will refuse any form of inducement that might impair objectivity

- They will exercise good management by careful planning, regular progress reviews and effective controls

- They will provide accurate and timely documentation

- They will carry out the work in accordance with the agreed quotation

- They comply at all times with your health and safety regulations

- They respect your premises and property and hold a valid insurance for third-party liability

Most importantly, they should confirm in writing the objective, scope of work, responsibilities and fees payable prior to commencing the audit. If they quibble over any of the above, look elsewhere.

Software management, auditing and the Year 2000 are inextricably linked and should be treated as a whole. By implementing and maintaining a legal software management policy, companies can not only ensure they remain within the law as far as software licences are concerned, but are in a much stronger position to achieve Year 2000 software compliance. Make sure that your Year 2000 partner gives you this perspective.

If you are unsure where to look for an audit service provider, contact FAST for a listing of companies that have signed its Code of Conduct.

Alternatively, the Government has put together a useful web site to help businesses get started with the millennium bug issue - see www.bug2000.co.uk or call the hotline 0845 6012000. The web site contains a listing of companies that have agreed to abide by the Computer Software and Services Association (CSSA) Code of Practice.

Geoff Webster is chief executive of the Federation Against Software Theft, 01753 527999.

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