5 Questions to Ask About Software Support

The first point to make regarding software support is that it is necessary for the ongoing health and security of your network, program and business. Businesses rely on software applications to automate operational processes such as job costing, warehouse management, and more. Without software patches, trouble support and training business productivity, security and profitability are at risk.

Here are the 5 most important questions to ask about the paid support:

1. What is covered in my support contract?

Some software development companies differentiate between the terms “support” and “maintenance”.  These companies often define support as trouble support. Meaning they are there for you if you run into trouble while using the software, which may or may not be caused by the software itself.  Maintenance typically refers to patches which are fixes to commonly experienced bugs, glitches and security holes. You may also want to find out if support covers any network, PC or user training issues that may arise.

2. What is the “response” time frame?

We (Dynamic Systems) recently had the following experience with a software provider. We needed help with an issue pertaining the software. We had originally been quoted for and purchased what was deemed a “same day response” support contract. When we submitted a trouble ticket we discovered that “same day response” meant someone from their company would contact us to gather further details about our issue the same day. Those details were then passed on to their “Tier 2” support team, who would responded 48 to 72 hours later.  So “same day” turned into “3 day”.  If this had been a critical issue this could have meant days of systems downtime costing us money and time.

3. Is there a defined process for getting questions answered?

Can you get a simple question answered quickly or is there a complex process (as described in question #2)?  You’ll want to be able to get a quick answer when you need it.

4. What if I have a bug in the software that needs patching?

By bug I am referring to an issue within the software itself. If you experience a bug that creates a regular glitch in your day, you’ll want it fixed as soon as possible. Some companies only fix bugs in new releases, which may come out 1 to 2 times a year, while others fix them as they arise. How does your software provider handle bug fixes?

5. If my support contract lapses, can I renew later?

Again, if this software tracks your assets or manages production processes, you will want to maintain your support contract.  You will find that many software development companies require a continuous maintenance contract.  Therefore, if you have let you contract lapse, say for 1 year, and try to renew the following year, they will charge you for 2 years (the year you lapsed as well as the new year).  The reasoning behind this is that you will receive 2 years’ worth of updates.  Not all companies require this, so ask the question.