Application Support versus Software Support

Most of the work that we conduct for our clients is not “off the shelf-ware” but more, custom systems designed specifically to suit a practice.  So, do we offer regular “software support”, “application support” or something slightly different…

A recent conversation with a client has caused me to rethink the definition and scope of “support” in the context of delivering a “custom application” based on a publicly available software platform.  Below are some of the different buckets into which support support terms can be categorized:

Software Support is ….

Software support is typically where software companies make their residual revenue.  It is their reward for continually “tweaking the product” and making incremental revisions to the product.  The typical support contract is an annual fee of 20%.  Microsoft has its maintenance plans which entitles the user to both service releases and version upgrades under this plan.

Software support is sometimes viewed as “bug fixing” and “insurance”.  It is generally “passive support” … The software is supported means that if there is something fundamentally “wrong” with the software, the vendor will fix it, and won’t charge the licensed user for the fix.

Premium Support is ….

Applications Support is more active/pro-active.  This support includes providing explanations and help configuring and maintaining the software in a given environment.  As applied to case management, it generally means access to a call center to troubleshoot problems as they arise, problems that arise from the use of the software.

Custom Application Support is ….

Custom application support goes beyond premium support as it includes support for customization of the base software done by a consultant (e.g. HotDocs templates, Case Management feature packages etc).  The scope of this support will typically include explanations, mini-training and minor customizations to address erratta in the original system.

Prepaid Consulting Support is …

Prepaid consulting support is pro-active.  It is consulting that is limited to the custom built applications, but anticipates and address changes in templates, data tracking and processes that are the result of actual use, these are issues that could not have been fully anticipated (and therefore are not errata), but fall within the scope of a particular project.

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