This post is mostly going to apply to smaller companies as I would HOPE (tongue in cheek a bit here) that larger merchants wouldn’t have this problem.

Life Preserver, by respres

Small- and Medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have more advanced software tools available to them today than ever before. Cloud-based solutions allow for multi-million dollar software packages to be available to SMBs at affordable monthly subscription prices. This level of business analytics, automation, and intelligence can make a big difference in how a business competes.  What once would take dedicated headcount can now be automated and scaled.

But with great power, comes great responsibility.

SMBs that entrust their business or data to these third parties must invest time and effort to understand not only what the software does, but how the third party manages through its confidentiality, data integrity, and availability service level agreements. Yes, it’s complicated stuff. And it’s a steep learning curve. And as a SMB owner or stakeholder, you shouldn’t rely on legal recourse to save your hide when bad things happen.

As I told a family member recently, “Yes, I will help you put this feature into your home network, but only if you agree to invest some of your time to learn about it. When it breaks, it will certainly happen when I am out of the country, and I can’t fix it from Hong Kong.”

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.