ARTICLE | Systems Support – Where is the value?
Live system support is not a new concept and is a service that Software Solved has provided to a wide range of customers for over 20 years. We provide certainty to our customers that their systems are available to enable business critical processes through the guarantee of support hours, response SLA’s, system uptime and quarterly service reviews.
Today, I think any business would expect this to be a standard part of any vendors support offering and for us it is however, is this approach enough on its own anymore? Where does the true value of selecting the right vendor to support your business-critical systems lie?
Keeping the lights on and the costs low
Over the years the approach to live support and what value it can provide has been viewed in a number of different ways. Decisions have to be made on prioritising budget based on the value it will return which is completely understandable. Models to consider may be:
1. Managing cost by focusing solely on hygiene and maintenance of a business critical system to ensure the status quo of enabling one or more key business processes. If it’s not broken then why fix it?
2. Offshoring system support is a viable option as it provides a break fix approach at very competitive and cost effective rates however, there are other things to take into account such as time zones and selecting the right partner to fit your company culture.
3. Another consideration is that we don’t always want to invest in systems that may become end of life or outdated so need to find the best way to keep the lights on to support the system until such a time it can be transitioned to another process or product.
The one thing we know in all of this is that a lot of businesses want the certainty of stable systems to support business critical processes but also want to avoid a system becoming so out of date that the cost of modernising can become extremely high.
Getting the balance right is extremely tricky.
Proactivity is the name of the game
I guess my question to this is “Shouldn’t live support packages provide more flexibility to customers to prioritise what’s important to them?” Whether that be fixing issues effecting usage or, making changes to modernise a system so it doesn’t get past the point of no return where a full expensive re-write is needed.
At Software Solved we have seen a lot of success in moving to a model that provides proactive days of service per month. We ensure close collaboration through prepaid days and agree priority on the work to be carried out whilst keeping costs predictable. This way the basics of support and hygienics just happen and the focus can be working together to understand where the value and utilisation of time lives.
Utilising a Kanban approach our customers get full transparency and simple visualisation of what is on the list to be done, what is in progress and what is completed. This is presented on a simple interactive dashboard and breaks down tickets into fixes, improvements, Refactoring or Spikes (all of which are explained in the link above).
Pair this with a standard annual hygiene plan and technical roadmap we balance priorities, provide stability, and manage the flow of cost not just in the short term but with an eye towards where you want your system to be in 5 years’ time.
Investment in the future and the here and now
Although IT spend dropped 5.4% in 2020 it is projected that in 2021 it will increase by 6.2% (Gartner Article) which suggests to me that choosing the right digital partner who can provide the best digital experience will be key to supporting your business to achieve its technology goals in the year ahead.
Our approach to support is for you to feel like we have a technical partnership, we provide you with the expertise to support your day-to-day business critical processes by making our team an extension of yours. We provide technical leadership, guidance and recommendation on where true value is going to be so that we can provide the most positive business impact possible.
System support is going to continue to be an area of investment for some time and its not always viable to hire in house skills. Taking the right approach now will save time and money in the long run but alongside will support your business to function, whilst allowing the opportunity to focus on modernisation so that systems do not get out of date or unsupportable. Technology is always moving forward so now is not the time to stand still.
The great news is we have taken all this analysis under consideration and re-launched a new 3 tier version of our support model targeted at providing all the value described above. Take a look at our website for more details.
Finally, selecting the right vendor is key to ensuring you are getting the best return on your investment. We recently published a blog that provides insight into strategies for getting vendor selection right, you can read it here.
If you would like more information on our Support Packages or about any of the solutions we provide, then please do get in contact.
This article was written by Ian Russell
Ian is our Director of Operations, he focuses on process improvement, development methodologies, DevOps and business strategy on driving business performance and growth.