The "eTIC" professional code of conduct
Fact : No admission to the professionThere is a lack of confidence between ICT suppliers and their SME customers (BtoB market).
Who has not heard of businesses:
- complaining of being insufficiently informed by their ICT service provider of the terms governing the transfer of intellectual property rights or the amounts of recurrent costs,
- that have been hogtied to a solution and a supplier who fails to meet their needs and requirements,
- or that are even left completely abandoned in cases where their service provider goes bankrupt.
‘eTIC': a ‘bottom-up' approach
A number of small businesses operating as part of a cluster in Liège (Belgium) got together in 2004 and decided to give confidence-building measures to customers.
Setting out from the main reasons why potential legal disputes arise between ICT suppliers and SME customers, they sought to improve the level of professionalism in this sector of industry by jointly compiling a Code of Conduct that was unheard of in the profession in Belgium.
The Economic Development Agency of the Province of Liège (SPI+) got involved to assist this SME cluster in writing up this Code 6 years ago.
The aim is to enable local businesses to show that they too are every bit as reliable - if not more so - than the major corporations operating in the ICT industry.
What does the eTIC Code involve?The 7 clauses contained in the Code relate to the commercial and contractual relations between customers and ICT suppliers:
- service adapted to the customer
- the joint definition of the scope of the project (content, limits and exclusions)
- cost control and lead time management
- available resources and qualifications brought to bear to accomplish the project
- sustainability/transferability of the solution or the service
- intellectual property rights
The Code requires the supplier, from the time the offer is made, to address a number of key issues together with his customer that might prove to be sources of legal dispute in due course unless they are properly clarified.
Full text of the Code of conduct
Details about "eTIC" code of conduct
- Through its emphasis on dialogue, this Code of Conduct sees more balanced contracts being drawn up that are better equipped to stand up over time and, above all, the scope of which has been properly defined by the 2 parties.
- The Code sets out a series of rules on what is professionally ethical conduct, relating to the commercial practices involved in the ICT industry.
- It is not a quality label in the usual sense: it does not provide the customer with guarantees that the service delivered will be of an impeccable technical quality.
- The ‘eTIC' Code stands in complement to the current ISO standards and is more of a moral undertaking on the part of the Code signatories relating to what are strictly commercial aspects.
Who supervises compliance with the professional code of conduct?
To lend added weight to this commitment, a system has been put in place to examine customer complaints relating to alleged non-compliance with the Code, which may see the authorization for the supplier to refer to the eTIC Code withdrawn.
This system rests on the arbitration efforts of the ‘eTIC Committee'.
- The Committee is a joint committee, made up of representatives from specialist companies, representatives from the professional users, several public institutions
- The Committee manages any incoming complaints on the basis of a procedure aimed at mediation
The customer has a serious pressure tactic in cases where the supplier's conduct is seen to evade compliance with the Code (26 complaints out of 30 have been settled through conciliation).
Who can sign the eTIC Code?
The right to use the ‘eTIC' trademark is awarded to businesses specialising in the delivery of ICT products and services, that are signatories to the Code of Conduct
The service providers unreservedly undertake in writing to act in compliance with the clauses of the Code and its requirements
They are to carry the 'eTIC' trademark logo on all of their commercial documents
This undertaking has become important as many SMEs, as well as public authorities (local councils,...), are now asking their ICT suppliers whether they have signed up to the ‘eTIC' Code of Conduct before signing any kind of contract!
- Currently, more than 800 ICT suppliers have signed the Code, representing a significant number on the Belgian and Luxembourg market
- Supported by the ‘Agoria' industry association
- Supported by many regional economic development institutions, Chambers of Commerce, Centres of excellence (Technopôles) and the public body "Agence Wallonne des Télécommunications" (AWT)
- Specific supplementary undertakings from ICT businesses offering e-commerce and Search Engine Optimisation services
- The scheme has been adopted in France by the Club ‘e-entreprises' Club of the CCI in Valenciennes. It is up and running in the Nord Pas-de-Calais, Bourgogne, Alsace, Normandie Regions and wil be launched in Provence Alpes Cotes d'Azur in october 2012.
- Developments planned in Germany for end of 2012.
For further information :
"eTIC Code" secretariat
AWT (Walloon Public Agency, for the development of ICT)
Tel.: +32 81 77 80 65