In the case of complex software products, which include ERP systems, the cost of acquisition is only one aspect in terms of cost. In addition to the license fees, there are the costs for software maintenance and upkeep. These costs are sometimes serious and appear to be unavoidable. But is that really the case?
It is well-known that there is no such thing as perfect software that works for a long period of time and does not cause any problems. This applies to tailor-made solutions as well as to standard software that is used worldwide. The cost of software maintenance and hardware maintenance already account for a significant portion of the revenue of the original vendors.
Why is software maintenance necessary?
Software publishers put their programs on the market and they are used by their customers while work on the software still continues in the background. The customer is therefore continuously involved in the sustained improvement of a software application: technically by means of automated error messages and in terms of costs in the form of maintenance agreements, with which the original vendor ensures the availability of the application. Eliminating programming errors is an important aspect of software maintenance. Scarcely any software vendor would make this a component of a maintenance agreement, even though it should be a matter of course.
What types of software maintenance are there?
The software maintenance and care that is offered to users primarily comprises services such as adaptations to modified technical or legal framework conditions. With a maintenance agreement, the software vendors guarantee that the user will be able to upgrade the program. Software products are constantly undergoing development and their capabilities are constantly being optimised, which results in better performance for the user. The end effect is that the vendor gets a substantial portion of its development work paid for through maintenance agreements. This approach is common in the IT industry.
What should be considered in the case of maintenance agreements?
Vendors like to base the cost of a maintenance agreement on the number of licenses that a company acquires. Therefore, when acquiring flat-rate license packages, the customer should know that the maintenance costs for the software will be derived as a percentage thereof. Contract fees can run up to 15 and 25 percent of the purchase price for the license rights per year. Accurate planning of the individual licenses that are actually needed is a way to keep the cost of maintenance as low as possible.
Is the expense of software maintenance worth it, or is it better to purchase new software?
For companies that use comparatively old software, switching to another provider may be worthwhile. If the cost of maintenance exceeds the quantifiable benefit that the application still provides, then making a clean cut is often the best option. However, this does not change the principle that new software is delivered with a new maintenance contract. In the case of business software, it is hardly possible to buy an application without a maintenance contract – and also not recommended. This is because in the case of current software releases in the IT industry, “new” does not necessarily mean that the application is stable and will run reliably. Therefore, the reverse approach may be a possibility, especially for small and medium-sized businesses: Previous software versions can also be purchased without a maintenance contract, as used software. Often, certain versions of the software are considered particularly reliable and stable. A new maintenance contract can still be concluded with the software publisher or original vendor. This facet is especially interesting for companies that are not necessarily dependent on having the very latest features of a software product.
Conclusion: Software maintenance contracts are essential for maintaining performance. You can save costs by accurately planning the user licenses actually required. You can also do so by purchasing older versions in the form of used software. The Microsoft-certified consultants at VENDOSOFT are available to provide you with information about software maintenance and used software. You should definitely obtain a comprehensive consultation!