Software Development Company Service Level Agreements: Do You Need One?

JP Lessard October 2, 2014
When a business has a custom software solution designed for it—whether it is a completely new system or an integrated design—the implementation of the system is usually not the final step of the software development lifecycle.
After the solution is implemented, most software development companies offer monthly service plan agreements to ensure the software continues to perform and function optimally to meet the needs of the business. You made a large investment in custom software for your business so the question you must ask yourself is, “Do I really need to invest more money on a monthly software support plan?”


Benefits of a Software Support Plan

As part of their software development services, a company’s plan or agreement will usually cover the following areas: ongoing maintenance and help desk support, proactive maintenance, and analysis of the system. Each one of these areas is valuable to ensure a business is running efficiently and help it stay ahead of its competitors.


So what can these different areas of service do for your business? Put simply, they can help you save time and money and stay competitive. “A company service level agreement gives a business a fixed budget,” says JP Lessard, President of Business Software Solutions at Miles Technologies. “They know they can keep their system up and running, and have proactive advice and consultation. It also keeps them more on the cutting edge of technology.”

Having a software help desk team available as a support resource will not only help ensure that the system is functioning properly, but can assist with answering any questions and help users navigate their way through the software. “One key value of a service level agreement is that for a business, there is someone to back you up,” says Erik Grobelny, Lead Software Support Specialist at Miles Technologies. “If there is some sort of issue or a user needs help using the system, help is available under a software support plan. This decreases turnaround time.”


Ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the software system is another invaluable resource a software development company can provide via its service plan. Take the example of an e-commerce site. If you are not on any kind of service plan, and there is an error with your site, it will not likely get noticed until it is reported by a customer if no one is monitoring the system. “If you are not on a plan and your site goes down, you have to wait for your customers or yourself to notice that,” says Lessard.

“You could lose two or three days’ worth of sales by that time. If you are on a support plan, and we’re monitoring your site for you, we’ll know within five minutes of the site being down. Most times, we’ll have it solved even before the customer knows there’s an issue.”

Having a service level agreement with a software development company is also valuable because there is an individual or team in the software development services that is familiar with the system designed specifically for your business. This makes troubleshooting faster, as support specialists know best where to look for common errors in the software.


Optimal Function amidst Technological Advances

Proactive maintenance and monitoring is key to make sure the solution continues to function amid the changing landscape of technology. Many custom software solutions—especially those designed for businesses—will integrate with some kind of third party software system. All web-based applications will need to work in web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Internet explorer. As part of a service level agreement, there can be a regular analysis to test whether all pieces of the system will continue to function with the changes in the browser or a third party system. “A plan will proactively monitor any third parties you do integrate with,” says Grobelny. “For example, if you integrate with FedEx to determine shipping charges for your e-commerce system, we’ll keep an eye on FedEx’s web service to see if it is going to update. We can proactively analyze what it would take keep your system working.”

A regular systems analysis as part of software development services is also vital in ensuring a system’s optimal performance. As part of this analysis, the development company should keep logs of various aspects of the systems functionality from any processes slowing down the software to common issues that come into the helpdesk. This information is then analyzed and used to recommend changes to the system going forward. “We’ll try to figure out what parts of the system maybe should be changed to make it easier to use or make it more intuitive,” says Lessard. “We could even add some features because people are asking about it a lot on the helpdesk.”

Much like the purchase of a car or a home, a custom software solution is an important investment for a company, so having it maintained and monitored by a team of experts is the best way to protect that investment. “Over time, you want to make sure you get the most out of that investment,” says Lessard. “So continuing to put a small investment—relative to your initial investment—in to make sure that things are running smooth is really important for a company.”

For more information on custom software solutions, contact Miles Technologies today.

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