Support and maintenance – how long should my contract be for?

Just this past week we received the same question from 5 different company CIOs – Do people really take out support contracts for more than a year? Well, yes and no. there are many factors behind the decision to purchase these contracts through a vendor including the length of time. Most vendors require at least a year of support and maintenance, and some bake it right into the purchase price. Beyond a year? Well, this will be based on these key factors:

  • Cost of the support or maintenance – is the cost more than you wanted to spend? Does it seem worth it? Is it more than getting outside help on an as-needed basis from someone other than the vendor?
  • In-house expertise – if you are equipped to handle most bugs/fixes and upgrades in-house, you might want to forgo long term support
  • Desired service levels – do you need premium support, or just support for the big problems?
  • Will the purchase (or non-purchase) affect any other, more vital support and maintenance – some software companies require that all active licenses be supported and really leave you with very little choice.

Like every other decision in IT, support and maintenance is going to be based solely on your organization’s needs. What is important here is to do your very best to foresee any problems and be sure that you will be able to handle them, and with as little out of pocket as possible.

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