Trends: What Customers Want From Maintenance And Support

One of the hottest topics this year has been maintenance and support. With many vendors contemplating another price hike, customers increasingly ask where's all that money going. The dirty secret - many vendors typically take up to 85% of the fees as profit, leaving a paltry 15% for reinvestment in support, maintenance, and upgrades. What's worse, some vendors have not only under invested in the core technology, but they have also failed to deliver basic enhancement requests that a majority of customers have asked for. Below's a top 10 wish list that customers are asking for from their vendors (in classic Letterman style):
10. Web based self service driven user support communities
9. Knowledgeable and culturally appropriate support professionals
8. Fixed pricing with no CPI or other inflationary price increases
7. Transparency into functionality and enhancement and prioritization
6. Time and materials billing for products outside of vendor stated support policies
5. 24/7 follow the sun support
4. Service level agreements for response times and quality of resolution
3. Transparency in how much of the maintenance and support dollar is reinvested versus how much is going to profit
2. Choice in support options and packages (i.e. tiered maintenance options)
1. Option for third party maintenance
Bottom line
Some major ERP vendors, especially those in the more competitive midmarket, have seen the light and are beginning to take steps towards delivering on the above wish list. It goes to prove that competition keeps everyone honest. However, those customers who are "locked in" to a vendor, need to organize and band together to create the right leverage with vendors who are hell bent on milking their customers for all their worth in the maintenance dollars. Start the movement with your user groups or other industry trade groups. If you fail to organize, well, you'll know it when you find yourself locked in.
Your turn.
Are you finding that your long term costs to keep the lights on continue to grow? Would you rather spend 80% of your budget on innovation and new projects instead of commoditized back office processes? Would you like to organize with other customers to affect change. Look forward to hearing from you! Feel free to post your comments here or send me a private email at [email protected].

(The personal contents in this blog do not reflect the opinions, ideas, thoughts, points of view, and any other potential attribution of my current, past, or future employers.)
Copyrighted 2008 by R Wang. All rights reserved