Publication Date: 1/25/2009 9:57:04 PM
Before you select a vendor to provide on-going support for your custom software, consider these items:
Availability. Many customers only require support during regular business hours, but some require more robust support. If your business needs to provide services outside a traditional 9 -to-5 workday, then make sure that your vendor will provide the same level of support.
Response time. How quickly will the vendor respond to requests (especially emergency requests)? No vendor can guarantee with 100% certainty that they will provide a fix or solution within a small timeframe, but they can guarantee that they will start investigating the matter quickly. If your custom software provides a mission-critical service to your business, then you'll want to know that they will respond fast.
Trust. I don't recommend that you use a new vendor for support without working with them on some other project, even a small one. Let's face it: a crisis is the worst time to learn that your new vendor can't be relied on. So if you are considering switching vendors, find some other small project or opportunity for them to prove themselves to you. Otherwise you may learn the hardware that your new vendor has a better sales department than technical staff.
Cost of questions. Some vendors charge by the hour, whether they are on the phone answering a simple question, fixing a bug, or troubleshooting an issue. Depending on the kind of support you need this may be okay. However in my experience there is a large benefit to developing a partnership with the vendor, and you can't do that when you are being nickel-and-dimed for every question. So look for a vendor who charges a flat monthly rate, or at least one who doesn't charge for each question you ask.
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As someone with over 20 years of software development experience
and currently a small business owner, it has been a pleasure working
with Avonelle. In addition to being a talented developer, Avonelle also
has database expertise and system design skills. Avonelle is open
minded and willing to discuss various methodologies for achieving a
project goal. She is also not afraid to ask questions which is vital in
a software development project. Her up-front project cost (not
estimate) is very helpful in budgeting for a project.
--Dwayne Wolterstorff, Owner @ Fair
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