Those terrrible software vendors ...

In a website posting dated July 19, 2010, Gartner announced that it's "Global IT Council for IT Maintenance" (huh?) has developed a "code of conduct" to guide the behavior of software vendors and their customers.  You can find more details at the link below but some of the major "rights" are:

  • The right to regular, appropriate, predictable updates to software products
  • The right to clearly defined response times and stratified IT support levels based on application criticality and other business factors
  • The right to reasonable, predictable percentage ranges for yearly maintenance fee increases — or decreases — as well as long-term caps on increases in maintenance costs -
  • The right to end or change support at any time for products that are not in use
  • The right to reasonable, predictable levels of support throughout product and contract life cycles
  • The right to reasonable, clearly defined maintenance and support for legacy systems
  • The right to explicit statement and approval of support details at the line-item level

Now, despite the fact my career has involved several stints at software vendors, I have a real problem with software vendors  living off of the proceeds of the industry's early but arbitrary application of an annual maintenance fee.  That said, doesn't the above "Code of Conduct" seem just a little one sided to you? I have some additions to suggest:

  • The right to any sort of maintenance at a reasonable fee is nullified if the product is tampered with (e.g. custom code added)
  • The right to any sort of maintenance at a reasonable fee is nullified if the customer insists on taking an older release with a bunch of features (that could be in the next new release) tacked onto it to save 2 months of time by creating a sort of Frankenstein monster of a product because "we don't want to be the first on a new release."
  • The right to any sort of maintenance at a reasonable price is nullified if the customer refuses to load maintenance releases.
  • The right to any sort of maintenance at a reasonable price is nullified if the customer refuses to load maintenance releases but then wants all the functionality in a current new release added to their current release
  • the right to any sort of maintenance at a reasonable price is nullified if the customer has insisted on "configurability" that business analysts can use to the line of code level and then let non-programmers use it.
  • the right to any sort of maintenance at a reasonable price is nullified if the customer goes to a third party to provide maintenance at the lowest possible cost and then comes back and asks for help in sorting out the mess.

Ok - anyone got any other suggestions? Seriously, I still err on the side of the customer's right to expect good quality software not the "get it out on time-ish and worry about quality later" stuff that is too easy for many software vendors to peddle. I still think that the arbitrary 20%-ish maintenance fee has to be earned and is not a right. But let's get real.  Maybe a start would be if customers applied the same terms to software vendors and they do to their internal software teams? Oh yes, that link is Gartners Maintenance Code of Conduct

Written by Michael D. Harris at 21:27
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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