Jamie Claret on Channel 4 News discussing Windows 7

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Letter to my Bank Manager(Lloyds TSB)

Dear Mr Bank Manager

I am writing this in reference to a letter you sent me today stating that because I have previously raised funds through the governments Enterprise Loan Guarantee Scheme(which I should point out, you mentioned no longer held much favour with the bank, even though the government own you and have put in place systems to ensure that you do use it, I should also mention that even though the government were happy to put up a guarantee for 85% of the loan you still felt compelled to ask me for a 100% personal guarantee of the full amount plus a full debenture over the assets of my business)that due to the 2012 SME charter you have to let me know of some of your concerns in writing.

You state that you are concerned that I have an amount of money owing to HMRC and that even though we have an agreed repayment plan in place with HMRC you would like clarification from my accountant. I too am concerned about your banks position with regards to money owing. I see from your half year results for 2011 that you have an unpaid debt of £285 Billion also owed to HM Treasury, unfortunately, unlike us, you have made no repayment plan with HMRC or have not stated when you will be expecting to pay this debt back.

As you can imagine, I am most concerned! please could you send me immediately a letter from your accountant stating when this will be paid.

Secondly, you state that after inspection of my accounts you are concerned that the profit made last year was smaller than expected. Again, I also have concerns. I took the liberty of studying your recent interim results to June 2011 and noticed that in the half year you had made a loss of £2,913 Million before tax. This really does concern me as a business client of your bank but also as a UK tax payer who in fact holds 40.2% shares in your business.

I appreciate your concerns for my business, but I should point out, that you do not own any shares in my business.

Secondly, with respect, my dip in profit was of a few thousand pounds, your loss from last year as has been nearly £4 billion.

Finally, you state that the bank will not, in the foreseeable future provide funds for my business in the interest of my business making acquisitions of other businesses, which over the past 5 years I have proved to return many many times more my investment. Again, I appreciate your honesty, I do hope that the UK government also takes your stance on this and when you are facing tough economic conditions and you require assistance, that the UK government will NOT lend you any money so that you can fail, as you should always have done

Warm regards

Jamie Claret

Jamie Claret - Director

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A guest post about bananas

I have been doing some mingling lately. A recent mingle led me to meet the bizarre but faintly entertaining Katie Millman, wife of James Millman.

Usually we meet at approximately 8am every other Tuesday at one of the networking events that go to.

All very jolly and fun.

The guest blog was all about eating bananas and how to be nice enjoy(click the bicep to read it)

or click this if the thought of clicking on a half man, half Katie Millman repels you.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Guest Blog on www.legalfutures.co.uk

My good friend and collegue Neil Rose, Owner of the Legal Futures web site, has posted my guest blog about the Adoption of Windows 7 within the coorporate and SME sphere. You can visit them here:

If you die hard Windows XP and Vista(pah pah) users have been resisting the switch to Windows 7, I have written about why now is good time to upgrade. Thanks Neil :)

Neil Rose is also the Editor for the Institute of Legal Executives(ILEX) a publication for legal Executives that I also write for. Take a look if you are interested:

Monday, 19 April 2010

What are your support company ACTUALLY doing for you?

I had a meeting today with an account manager of a large IT Support company. We were discussing the good things and bad things that her employer did and how good or badly they support their clients.

One matter which got raised was to do with backup monitoring and how badly her existing employers did this. I was shocked but not at all surprised. Many companies offer a full range of what are termed as 'managed services'. A Managed Service is a concept where the provider takes over the control of the monitoring of your IT systems and fixes the problems before you even know about it.

This is great and a worthwhile service to have, we offer it ourselves. The problem arises when the company providing the service have a 'set and forget' attitude to the monitoring. There are lots of areas I could talk about here but the most important one, and the one that often gets overlooked is the backups.

The backup, which is never appreciated or taken seriously unless something goes wrong, is THE most critical element of your system. It is only when something goes horribly wrong and there is NO backup that it seems to focus the mind!

many managed service providers claim to be monitoring your backup, but to what extent? and more importantly , how do you KNOW they are?

Many companies still use tape backups but I cannot tell you how many I have walked into and they could not tell me the last time someone tried to extract some data from the tape, its scary!

At The PC Surgery we have a daily backup routine which is checked against all of our clients every single day. If we do not receive a successful notification or if there is an error we have an internal SLA(Service Level Agreement) to ensure that the problem is resolved AND tested. Yes this is time consuming and yes this is a cost to us BUT if we get the phone call that all support companies hate - "Hello, our server is dead" we can relax knowing that the backups were completed and successful.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

5 Tips for when your IT Support provider goes AWOL(or gets put into Administration, like Adventi)

5 Tips for when your IT Support provider goes AWOL(or gets put into Administration)

What would you do if your IT Support provider went missing in action? This is a question faced by many professional practises that were supported by Adventi, one of the UK’s fastest growing IT Consultants. Inside information suggests that clients of the firm have less than two weeks worth of support available to them due to a winding order being placed on them by HMRC. This is and should be of grave concern to practices that’s IT infrastructure and support is reliant on them.

Clients of Adventi are currently seeing the following page when trying to contact them for support through their web site:

Not much help if your email has gone down.

Alternatively, at the smaller end of the scale, your IT Support Company (a middle aged man with a screwdriver and a smart car) may currently be stranded in Marbella, grounded by Volcanic ash being spewed out by an Icelandic volcano.

It goes without saying that nowadays a professional firm, like any business, is incredibly reliant on technology and cannot afford to be in a situation where they have no one to support them. Some things, like an administration are virtually impossible to predict and any amount of Risk Assessment by your supplier would not help as the very structure which is being risk assessed has collapsed. It could definitely be argued however that an internal risk assessment of the company supporting your main services should be part of your overall contingency plan. Companies often look at the systems when conducting such a risk assessment but rarely at the suppliers themselves.

If your main IT Support does disappear it can be a very real concern especially as most firms now have some form of centralised email or practise management system. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but the following tips are worth considering when taking on a new supplier or when looking to move from your existing one (who is stranded in Marbella or in discussions with HMRC)

1: Check your contract

Support contracts and Terms and Conditions are often glossed over in the world of IT. Go through them thoroughly and check what happens if key people are unavailable or if SLA’s are breached. It is also key to understand what happens if the company is bought out and if you have an option to move to a new supplier.

2: How resilient are your suppliers?

Ask them about their risk assessment, their contingency plans. If they are a small firm find out what happens if the ‘main’ techy gets stranded by a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

3: Do they have your best interests at heart?

Many IT firms are grown quickly to generate a quick return for the investors when they sell out. Do you want to be just a contract worth £XXX in resale? Big is not always best and a smaller firm with an established history will value you more, be more flexible and will be far more keen to nature you as a client. You will also be more likely to have regular direct contact with the owner and not just your account manager, who is ultimately, expendable.

4: Are they a viable business?

This may not seem obvious but it is not a bad idea to ask the business owner about the plans for the business, is it profitable, how long have they been trading for. If they are cagey then investigate further or steer clear.

5: Have a contingency plan in place

You have one for your server blowing up (if not you should!) so why not have one for your IT Supplier going into administration. Never be afraid to speak to other suppliers in the background even if you are happy with your current one. You never know what’s around the corner.
It goes without saying that as the owner of The PC Surgery I would be more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have if you have been affected by this story..0845 201 1456

Friday, 16 April 2010

I just had to wear make-up for the second time in my life

For only the second time in my life I was forced to wear some foundation. The reason for this was because I was filming my first ever online video and apparently I am a little shiny - I could have told them that.

I wont tell you about the other time unless you know me very well.

Any way, I digress, this was the first meaningful time that I had to do a video recording that was direct to camera and not as part of a speech at a wedding. I was absolutely shocked at how much harder this is than it appears.

I have no problem at all in talking, in fact it is the thing I enjoy most about my job, talking to people, but trying to talk to an imaginary person in the middle of a wide angle lens is something quite different. Earlier in the day I had prepared my 'script' and had even done a practise audio recording. It was all very concise and fluid and I thought the recording would be a doddle.

I wanted to get across who I was(Jamie Claret - in case you were unsure) and to tell everyone a little about my business - The PC Surgery

How wrong was I!

The first problem, after the make up, was the fact that I had to try and remember what I wrote down. This is actually very tricky and confirmed that I will not pursue a career in EastEnders. Once I had got over that, the problem was trying to sound as natural as possible whilst not looking at notes or at the other person in the room. Instead I was talking into the deep void of a lens.

It was OK once I got used to it but the outtakes will be far more amusing than the edited version. I didn't realise how much I swore when things went wrong!

Time will tell how the edit comes out but It will be posted here, fresh from the cutting room floor and I would be interested in any feedback. In the meantime I am off to learn this new skill which I thought I had, but evidently I didn't!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Good staff vs. great staff

Yesterday was a better than average day in the office and I would say this is all down to my staff, who are fantastic.

One reads a lot about how the most successful companies always hire the best people, and to some extent, regardless of cost. Once upon a time I did not have this view, as a young busines I thought it was best to shave costs as much as possible, including wages. Whilst there is a time and place for this I have learnt that in order to grow one must get the best one can afford.

We have recently been through the process of hiring an additional technician for the team and after three months of looking, combined with a relatively quiet month, decided to put hiring on hold for a few months.

Of course you know what happens next, its the last interview we have, and the candidate is fantastic. I had written off the budget by this point and so now had to really justify the expense. However when a candidate has that certain 'x' factor you realise that you would be stupid not to.

And it's that 'x' factor which has become so important to the business. Whilst we may be one of thousands of IT companies around the country, I would argue that I have one of the best teams around. My staff are more than capable technically but beyond that they possess a genuine warmth and sense of care to our clients and each other.

These are exciting times and I am pleased I have such a great team to grow the business even further