Emergencies happen. Someone on the staff accidentally deletes all of your content, previously unknown bugs pop up, an automated update makes everything break. This is part of the reality of having a website. We take emergency situations seriously and respect that our clients’ sites are often mission critical. As such, we’ve developed the following policy for emergency work.
If you have a maintenance contract with us, emergency availability will be covered in the agreement. If not, our availability to deal with emergency situations is at our discretion based on our current workload and available resources.
Emergency work is billed at $240/hour. Clients with a maintenance contract may enjoy discounts as spelled out in the agreement. This rate is subject to change.
We take emergency situations very seriously, and we will generally drop whatever we are doing to respond. As such, it’s important for you to assess whether a situation is an emergency before contacting us. This saves everyone time and stress. By declaring a situation an emergency, you are saying you’re willing to engage us at the above rate for us to work on fixing your emergency immediately for a minimum of 1/2 an hour, and a maximum set by you.
Notification & Authorization
There’s no wrong way to notify us of an emergency, but the most reliable way to get our attention is usually a phone call. Tom is reachable via mobile at 778.317.5687 during normal business hours most days. If you’re unable to get a hold of him via phone, send an email to email@example.com, and copy firstname.lastname@example.org. Mark the message highest priority, and put EMERGENCY in the subject line. This will allow us to get to work right off the bat, and avoid having to seek clarification over whether a situation is, in fact, an emergency.
Note that by making this contact, you are authorizing us for a billing of 1/2 an hour at the emergency rate.
Once we receive the notification, we will immediately contact you to confirm that we have received your request, and get any needed clarification on the issue.
After we make contact, we will:
- do a preliminary investigation – i.e. find out what the problem is. i.e., “the site is completely down!” or “our shopping cart won’t process transactions!”
- form a hypothesis about the most likely course of action to correct the issue based on our knowledge of your systems
- seek your approval to test our hypothesis
Typically, we will require authorization for an additional .5-1 hour(s) of time to investigate. This will enable us to:
- determine whether the hypothesis is correct
- determine whether the issue can be easily corrected within the allotted time
- prepare a report for you on the actions taken and next steps, if any
If we are able to fix the issue, then great! We’re done, you’re back up and running, and everyone can go back to business as usual. If we are not able to fix the issue, we will report on the situation, including
- steps taken so far
- additional steps suggested or required
- additional time required for authorization to complete the additional steps
We will repeat the above steps as many times as necessary (and authorized) to return your site to normal functioning parameters. In any situation, we will leave the site in no worse condition than we found it.
Ongoing Contact and Authorization of Work
You will not be billed for any more work than was explicitly authorized. However, as a result, we may need to contact you for further authorization as we exhaust previously authorized hours. In the event that work goes after hours, please advise us whether to continue to contact you as work progresses or wait until the following day’s business hours.
Several steps may be taken to reduce the risk around website emergencies, and we recommend all of the following:
- ALWAYS use unique, secure passwords and ensure that your users all do the same
- Host your site with a reputable hosting provider that provides regular backups of files and databases
- Commit your site to a version control system, and insist that any vendors you hire use it correctly
- Keep software updated, particularly CMSes and associated themes and plugins
- Make your own backups regularly, and ensure that multiple copies of backups exist
- Take steps to secure your site against hacking in advance – don’t wait till you’ve already been hacked!
With the exception of securing your passwords and forcing you to select a reputable hosting company, we can do all of the things we suggest above, either as part of a maintenance package or as a la carte services. Contact us to find out more.