Support Policy

We have a number of bespoke products released to clients, of which support is often required, whether it be a problem has occurred with the system, training, or a minor enhancement.

The conflict we face as a busy business is new work (which is known and can be planned) vs existing system support (which is unknown, and disrupts planned schedules).

Planned work is usually aligned to strict timescales and regular deadlines, with clients rightfully expecting project deliverables to be made on time. Any ad-hoc support that crops up pulls us away from planned work meaning that timescales are not met, and this is a problem. Because of the concentration levels required to develop software, support work can also become a distraction and lower productivity on schedule projects significantly. So to help control this, we have two distinct support packages outlined below.


1. Paid-for support contract (Premium)

With this package, customers can get support at any time, including urgent support, at their standard hourly rate.

For this option, an estimate is made on the time likely to be required per month, with this time is paid-for in advance. This time block needs to be utilised within the month (since we need to plan month by month), but it can encompass minor development work/enhancements also. Should more time be required than has been planned, it would roll onto standard support (option 2 below).

Because this time is known and set aside in advance, any forthcoming projects can be scheduled around it. This helps us plan adequately for new projects and likely support work, ensuring conflict between each is minimal.

The benefit for customers is that they can ensure priority support without paying through the nose. This package has some similarities to an insurance policy, but unlike an insurance policy the time/spend can be utilised elsewhere if requested within the month.


2. Pay as you go support (Standard)

With this package, we operate a within 10-days support response time for customers who do not have a support contract. Our support day is usually a Friday, with Monday to Thursday dedicated to scheduled projects, so we usually complete either within the nearest Friday or the one after, depending on support workloads. This suits most customers.

The benefit for us is we can pigeon-hole support work into a known time-slot, keeping most of the week available for mainstream projects (or priority support).


Summary

We believe this to be the fairest system. It keeps us productive so we can concentrate on scheduled/known projects without being frequently pulled away from them, yet offers different tiers of support for customers depending on their needs, prioritising premium/paid for support. When we provide timescales for new projects, we can factor in the time required from both support packages, offering accurate delivery date ranges.

We don't try to railroad customers into expensive or unnecessary support contract retainers, but realistically priority support that affects scheduled projects does need to be a premium service. We let the customer decide the level they want and set the paid-in-advance-time, which can be adjusted.


Recommendations for Customers

With our support rules known and that we cannot be reactive to emergencies outwith premium support, we offer the following recommendations to customers.

  1. Most support problems relating to our software is usually a consequence of a third party or outside influence having changed something. For example, environment changes in either software or hardware (server, operating system, firewalls, hardware failure, expired passwords on email/service user accounts etc.). If something that worked previously no longer works, it's worth checking if anything has been changed that may affect it.
  2. Plan for failure. Given the nature of electronics, equipment will fail. We recommend customers have suitable backup systems and emergency procedures in place, and consider purchasing spare equipment such as PCs/specialist hardware for when this does happen, especially if a system is heavily relied upon or business critical. Such procedures can mean systems can be up and running again in minutes by in-house staff, alleviating lost time or reliance. We're always happy to assist with setting up or recommending emergency procedures.
  3. Plan in advance. Common support requests are often related to new employee starts or PC renewals, of which both activities are known in advance. So forward planning and giving us notice will alleviate lost time.
  4. Decide what kind of support for or will you need. If you have business critical systems and cannot wait 10 days, it would be advised to look into premium support to prevent disappointment or lost earnings.

Notes:

  1. The support packages outlined above are only applicable to projects outwith the initial development period.
  2. Premium support contract time is a minimum of 1 year.
  3. Our 10 day support time is subject to change depending on workloads, and is reviewed regularly, and will be updated here.
  4. Note we cannot always offer paid-for support contract immediately when requested, since it will depend on scheduled project commitments.

Posted on 6th September 2016 in Planning

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    MH Apps Ltd
    Office 8 Unit 4.1
    Toll Clock Shopping Centre
    Lerwick
    Shetland ZE1 0DE

    Tel: 01595 70 80 90

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