ERP Software BuyerView Q&A – Installment 4

What are the biggest benefits of renewing Software Maintenance?

As a continuation to my Q & A session with Forrest Burnson, market researcher for Software Advice’s recently published Enterprise Resource Planning Software BuyerView | 2015, I would like to address the fourth question I had for Forrest, specifically for process manufacturers.

BatchMaster: What do manufacturers tell you is their biggest benefit in renewing their annual software maintenance regularly? Please share three.

Burnson: The most significant benefit is ensuring the platform continues to be stable. The next would be to ensure that employees are able to communicate with the vendor regarding any problems they have had with operating the solution. And the third would be pertaining to product updates, as these are vitally important because of their ability to make the solution operate more efficiently both for the company as a whole and within the hardware environment.

Hudson: Burnson points out the three key aspects of a developers’ software maintenance program. These are critical elements and it’s no surprise they are the most beneficial to the customer.

First, the customer needs to maintain a stable solution so they can keep their focus on manufacturing product and meeting customer needs and their software solution is a means to achieving these goals. The solution needs to continue to support technology updates and new mandates within their industry. Companies should look for a site assessment service to ensure the solution is running smoothly based upon current conditions and/or current configuration.

Next, the customer needs access to product experts when questions go beyond documented material. This includes phone, email and additionally online diagnostics (if needed). Most vendors will publish their email and phone support response times, so that you can be sure your issue is received and being researched. Email is often the best choice when a customer has a support question. This ensures everything is documented and lets the customer include screen shots to clarify their questions.

Product updates are the third key benefit with annual software maintenance. Many companies deliver a substantial product release with enhancements every 12-18 months. In between the releases, software companies provide minor updates that may include corrections and minor enhancements. Be sure to evaluate the complete cost of a product update including implementation and deployment of new release and factor this in when determining the time and resources needed. Your vendor can help you with this evaluation. I recommend requesting a written document from your software vendor which describes their annual software maintenance plan in detail and ALWAYS ask questions to clarify any concerns.

Get more information on BatchMaster for your organization at Process Manufacturing ERP

Christy Hudson is a Sr. Marketing Manager at BatchMaster Software. She is approaching the 30-year mark working with and for organizations providing ERP solutions to the for process manufacturing industry. Christy has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a Teaching Credential from Cal State Long Beach. She has also completed numerous courses in Marketing and Accounting.

Forrest Burnson is a market research associate at Software Advice, a firm that connects software buyers with vendors where he covers the ERP, inventory management and supply chain markets. He graduated from the University of the South with degrees in political science and French studies. In 2013, he earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas. Prior to joining Software Advice, he was a writer and researcher for Global Water Intelligence and he was published in a number of other outlets, including the Texas Tribune, the Austin Business Journal, Market News International and the Austin American-Statesman.