It should come as no surprise that software is the second-highest IT spend category industrywide. But perhaps equally as important as the software investment is the investment organizations make in their software support. Without a trustworthy and reliable support company, organizations will never reap the full benefits of their software. They are likely to struggle with updates and essential maintenance, which can lead to devastating consequences when faced with situations such as cyber attacks.
Upon investing in new software, the majority of organizations sign up for support from the software vendor, only to feel betrayed by the vendor’s declining support quality, ever-increasing support fees, and steadfast commitment to achieving sales goals. But what’s the alternative?
Over the years, several third-party software support companies have emerged as an answer to the overwhelming frustration directed at vendor support. Rather than specializing in software sales, these support companies prioritize extending the life of the software. That said, not all third-party software-support companies are equal. To ensure you make the right choice for your organization, it’s imperative to conduct a comprehensive risk-benefit analysis and thoroughly research your options.
Fortunately, Gartner, the foremost technology research and advisory analyst, offers guidance on evaluating third-party support providers like Spinnaker Support in their report titled “Market Guide for Independent Third-Party Support for IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP Software.” This report not only outlines the evaluation process for IT leaders but also highlights the many benefits of opting for quality third-party support over vendor-provided support.
One of the key frustrations organizational leaders often encounter with vendor support is the lack of control they experience over their own software. It’s incredibly frustrating to pay a substantial amount for help, only to be left without the support you require when it is most crucial. These are the moments that truly highlight to leaders that their situation is completely beyond their control.
The issue of control often comes down to the level of respect you receive as an individual with a unique software environment that has unique needs. Vendor-provided support services typically offer one-size-fits-all solutions to address problems, whereas third-party support is known for its ability to tailor solutions to your specific requirements.
Gartner’s report highlights how Spinnaker Support customizes its services to their customers at no additional cost, providing break-fix services for standard and customized code. Notably, Spinnaker has earned a reputation for its fast response times, connecting customers with experts they’ve been working with since day one. This dedicated approach helps efficiently resolve any issues that may arise.
Customers who opt for third-party software support also often experience a newfound freedom in their service contracts. According to Gartner, “Organizations look to third-party providers to increase flexibility in their software maintenance and support contracts, allowing them to opt out of new and future versions and release upgrades if these are unnecessary and costly for the business.”
Depending on how you look at it, it may prove riskier to stay with vendor-provided support than to switch to a reputable third-party provider. With a vendor, you’re tied to long-term contracts, you’re often forced to pay for upgrades, the vendor may decide to retire your specific software version, and your support fees increase year after year.
According to Gartner, “In some cases, no price protection exists for ongoing maintenance and support in vendor contracts. In such cases, particularly with the three- to five-year term multiyear commitment contracts… there is high risk of escalating maintenance and support costs or end-of-support announcements during these multiyear terms.”
And, in analyzing the risk-benefits of third-party services, Gartner lists advantages that outweigh any potential drawbacks. These include contracts and maintenance that are open to customization, services that support customizable code and unique product-specific requirements and improved SLAs.
When given the choice between unresponsive and poor-quality service with high service fees or fast high-quality service at lower fees, the decision is obvious. But are the savings really that great for third-party support?
Yes, they are.
The majority of Gartner’s report discusses the cost savings and value-adds that come with third-party support, and a closer look reveals that organizations can reduce their software maintenance costs up to 50% (60% with Spinnaker Support).
Some of the most substantial savings realized by customers is in the avoidance of unnecessary upgrades and the ability to opt out of new and future software versions. Typically, if an organization refuses these upgrades and insists on staying with their older-version products, they often face the challenge of dealing with the vendor’s exorbitant rates for customized professional services. As a standard, typical third-party support providers support older legacy software for 15 years.
5 Steps to Identifying the Viability of a Third-Party Software Support Company
Gartner recommends taking five steps to identifying the viability of a third-party software support company — all of which are defined in detail in their report:
- Assess Third-Party Support Feasibility.
- Use RFPs for Detailed Services and Pricing Proposals.
- Conduct a Third-Party Support Risk-Benefit Assessment with IT and Key Stakeholders.
- Request and Contact References.
- Arrange No-Charge Pilot Programs to Evaluate and Test Third-Party Support Capabilities.
After reviewing Gartner’s “Market Guide for Independent Third-Party Support for IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP Software,” the question isn’t so much whether switching to third-party software support is a smart choice — it becomes which third-party service will provide the best value at the lowest risk for the best price. At Spinnaker Support, we highly recommend following Gartner’s five-step approach to assess our ability to provide the support you need, ensuring you maximize the benefits of one of the most significant and worthwhile investments your organization can make.