What Do I Need to Know About Software Support?

In a world where warranties may often be simple money grabs, it is prudent to question the validity of product add-ons.. So when you hear the term “software support and maintenance,” it can often come across as just another item to add on to your bill.

It is best to think of software support as insurance, and not a warranty. It is something you hope you never have to worry about — in a perfect world, software would work, well, perfectly. But, having software support can mean the difference between a security upgrade going smoothly, or completely shutting down your business’ ability to process mission critical documents.

WHAT DOES SOFTWARE SUPPORT PROVIDE?

Software maintenance and support entitles you to updates, patches, fixes, bug fixes, version updates, and any other routine or pre-agreed upon maintenance in your contract. Every service provider will offer slightly different support options, and many will segment this support into tiered levels, providing support packages that more closely fit the needs of varying business sizes and their network’s complexity.

Essentially, a software support agreement means the difference between calling your service provider and asking, “hey, our software did something it isn’t supposed to do, can you fix it?,” and being charged or not. While a software support agreement does come with a reoccurring cost, it ensures your provider will quickly respond to your request, and without charging you for additional labor.

Most importantly, it means someone is always keeping a close eye on the health of your software — meaning you experience less interruptions to your daily operations, and benefit from increased productivity.

Lastly, software support ensures your software remains up-to-date — and this can be hugely important to your organization.

THE IMPORTANCE OF UPDATES

There are many examples of an out-of-date program causing a minor interruption at an inopportune moment — but sometimes, not updating software can spell disaster. While the following example is a worst-case scenario, it is a stark reminder of just what can happen if updates are neglected.

A company had upgraded their email server, which required upgrading to the newest security standard for TLS, TLS1.3. While updating the server was no issue, it spelled disaster for their document management software, which had not been upgraded in over a year. The company had decided to forgo signing a software service contract, and as such, were told by the software provider that they must pay for service for the previous year, as well as the current year.

Ultimately, this led to over a week of downtime on their email server’s integrations with their document management software — meaning the business was unable to process mission critical documents, such as invoices.

While this is an example of a worst-case scenario , it is is not outside the realm of possibility.

SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE

Often abbreviated to SaaS, software as a service is becoming more popular as the benefits to remotely managed software are enormous. Rather than paying for both software and support, a subscription to a SaaS product will provide licensing, maintenance, support, and a continually updated codebase, all at no extra cost (other than the monthly reoccurring fee, of course).

Since SaaS products are remotely managed, they often experience low rates of bugs, are automatically updated, and come with built-in remote support for customers.

With the additional benefit of running in the cloud, and thus freeing up the need to maintain your own on-site server to run your applications, SaaS has the potential be a very economically-sound choice for any business.

SOFTWARE SUPPORT AND YOUR BUSINESS

Software support is usually about 20% of the total cost of your software license, meaning a $10,000 software license will come with a software support cost of $2,000. And while there is no doubt that number is significant, it is well-worth its value. When taking into consideration that cost can be rolled into other lease agreements, such as a lease for a copier installed with UniFLOW, your overall expenses can be reduced as they are spread out over the lease period.

The choice of whether to utilize software support and maintenance is up to you — but just remember, a reoccurring cost is most definitely worth preventing the loss of the ability to process mission-critical documents.

Marc Klein
Marc Klein is Cobb's Professional Services Manager, and has been working in the professional services industry for 21 years - seven of which have been with Cobb. When Marc isn't supporting business' software needs, he's building race cars, or practicing TaeKwon Do, of which he has achieved the rank of blackbelt.