Can I Drop 3rd Party Software Maintenance?

three person triangleSoftware maintenance contracts usually include the right to technical support, bug patches, and version upgrades. However, a shop can decide they really don’t need to provide maintenance on one or more of their third-party software packages and drop maintenance for a particular product.

This can happen in stable production environments where the software has been running for a long time and very few changes occur. The administrator or management may decide that it’s too expensive to maintain a piece of software, and that they are never going to upgrade the software or the operating system. These shops may decide that it’s just not worth it to pay 15-20% a year on software that’s been rock solid for years. Especially if it’s a big-ticket item, like ERP software maintenance.

(updated on 11-2-13)

While dropping software maintenance can be a valid business decision, the problem comes in if you legitimately need maintenance from the vendor that you just cancelled maintenance on, perhaps for an operating system upgrade or a software bug that’s solved with the latest release.

If you want to reinstate software maintenance, many vendors will charge you back maintenance to bring you up to date with all the years you didn’t pay maintenance. There may also be a penalty to reinstate maintenance. I’ve generally found that the bigger the vendor, the more intransigent they are about people dropping maintenance and then wanting to reinstate it later on. Vendors don’t want customers paying maintenance only when they need it. They want you to be current so that they are able to cover their costs and make a profit supporting you and their other customers.elephant

If you drop third-party software maintenance, you may have problems getting that product to run on upgraded hardware. Many vendors key their software to a specific serial number and if you want to upgrade, you may need to get a new hardware key for the new system. And you won’t be able to get that key unless you’re current on maintenance. Worse, the software may not run on new hardware unless you update to the most recent version which surprise, is only available if you are current on your software maintenance.

The same goes for running software under a new operating system. You may need to get the latest version of your 3rd-party software to run under a new OS. Again, this may only be possible if you’re current on maintenance so keep that in mind, as well.

An alternative to dropping expensive vendor maintenance is that there are some organizations that will provide maintenance for other company’s products, at a lesser cost. This can help reduce costs but you may still have problems with hardware or operating system upgrades or running the software on an a new machine.

So while dropping software maintenance may seem like a good idea to cut costs, you need to be aware that it can burn you later on when you may need maintenance services from a vendor.

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About Joe Hertvik

Joe is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a service company providing written white papers, case studies, and other marketing content to computer industry companies. He is also a contributing editor for IT Jungle and has written the Admin Alert column for the past ten years. Follow Joe Hertvik on Twitter @JoeHertvik. Email Joe for a free quote on white papers, case studies, brochures, or other marketing materials.
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One Response to Can I Drop 3rd Party Software Maintenance?

  1. Consider it as car insurance… you really can’t get it after you have had the the accident. You want to have the maintenance and support coverage to maintain your operations and have it available for when catastrophic events do happen. Be assured catastrophes do happen. The better you maintain your hardware and software, the better you improve your chances of preventing bad things from happening and improve your recovery time for when they do happen.

    From a financial point of view it does make sense to drop coverage… However that is only in the very short run. Mid to long run it will cause your organization more money, more dispurtion, and hurt your productivity which all affects the bottom line.

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