What are the Pros and Cons of Support Plans?

At Innovia Consulting, we are often asked if we offer annual support plans for our customers. In one instance, a CFO told me, “I would rather spend $5,000 I budgeted than $500 I did not budget.” This is a fair point, but there are many other factors to consider when thinking about support plans. In this article, I will share what Innovia has considered and how we have arrived at our current approach to client support outside of project work.

Our Perspective on Support Plans

On the surface, the appeal of an annual support plan for customers is obvious. For a preset price, the customer would like to be able to ask questions and get answers to ongoing support type issues. The challenge we’ve discovered based on our own planning and comparing what other partners offer is that by the time you consider all the exceptions/exclusions, the scope for these support plans is very narrow.

Looking at our actual data, we analyzed the types and number of support requests that came in from our customers over the past 10 years. Based on that evaluation and after speaking with our customers, we determined that most of our clients are still better served when they pay for support on a time and material basis.

While this analysis should not rule out a support plan for your company, it does bring into question what makes a support plan the right solution and what you should consider when evaluating it. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of support plans.

Pros

  • Predictable support budget
  • Typically, preferred access to the support queue
  • Discounts for other work requests outside of the scope of the support plan

Cons

  • Scope typically does not align with customer expectations
  • Locks in your purchase and cash for work that may or may not be performed
  • Support teams at most partners are not dedicated to this purpose, meaning they also perform project-related work and, thus, are not available in a timely fashion

Conclusion

While the appeal of a fixed price for “unlimited” support sounds appealing, the reality of what is included in a support plan is typically far less than unlimited. Be sure to do your homework. Understand what is included in the plan and what is excluded. At Innovia, we have not found a path that provides sufficient value to enough customers for us to offer annual support plans. While we continue to evaluate how we might offer such a plan, for the time being, Innovia believes your money is best kept in your pocket until you actually need the service.

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