We’ve been using FE’s Analytics software since 2007 and have always found them friendly, cooperative and easy to deal with and we love their software. We refer to FE as our ‘investment research partner’ and over the last few months have been working on a new project which will bring our firms even closer together.
The events of the 9 days have shaken our faith in them to the foundations.
For those unfamiliar with Analytics it’s a service whereby we record our clients investment portfolios over time, including all the changes made. Some of our records go back to 2008 and would have dozens of changes over the following 11 years. Being a cloud based service there is no way, that I know of, that WE can back up the data. We are reliant of FE to have a robust process in place.
On Monday 18th February we noticed some of our portfolios (i.e. client records) had gone missing so we raised a support call. Cutting a long story short, FE’s response since then has been shockingly bad, with next to no feedback at any time. It wasn’t until Tuesday 26th that we had any degree of confidence that they could actually recover the data. Only this afternoon, 27th February have they restored our data.
Since that original support call FE made next to no progress at all last week, causing much stress for my team as they knew they would have to tell me about the problem when I got back from holiday and, understandably, had hoped it would have been resolved before then.
FE initially suggested WE had deleted the data but I know my team and it’s very unlikely we would have randomly deleted a thousand or so records (each portfolio change is a separate record and to delete the entire portfolio, you need to delete each record. Deleting one portfolio might be as many as 20 records, which is probably 30 or 40 mouse clicks. With 250 or so portfolios lost, that’s an awful lot of mouse clicks).
They set deadlines to provide updates and missed them. They didn’t respond to our seemingly sensible suggestion to simply restore the backup from Monday 11th February – when we know the data was there because we used it. We were happy to ‘lose’ any changes we had made since 11th February, as we could look back at our work logs and redo them.
I’ve read our contract with them and am intrigued that it makes reference to us establishing a reasonable back up. I’ve spoken to a few other Analytics users that I know and none of us make backups ourselves, and none of us think it is possible to do so. I await with interest to hear what FE have to say about clause 14.7!
As the data has only just been restored, they have not yet commented on what happened to our data, why it took so long to recover or indeed why the communication between them and us has been so abysmal for the last week. With the data back, we can pick the bones out of the mess and learn from it but I wanted to highlight our plight to fellow users because I can assure you, it has been a distinctly unpleasant experience.
Rather naively I had assumed a business that appears to be well run and hi-tech would have a disaster recovery plan in place and I now realise with hindsight we should have asked about their backup process and procedures before now. We’re a tiny business but our Azure (i.e. cloud) database is backed up 3 times by Microsoft over multiple physical locations and the core data a further time via Deposit. We regularly test the backups and can restore data in minutes. I can’t imagine any scenario that would take us 8 days to restore and if we did have some sort of major disaster that needed a full rebuild of our data, then we wouldn’t leave clients in the dark about what was happening nor when normal service would be resumed.
This has been a real shock and we wanted to share our pain with other Analytics subscribers so that you can consider what you might do if one day you find all your portfolios have disappeared too.