We’re going to start this particular article off by explaining why software maintenance is necessary before delving into the ins and outs of so-called “annual enhancement plans,” which ensure you always have the latest and greatest version of a particular software. Maintaining a system is important because it keeps solutions “healthy enough” to deal with changing technical and business environments; generally, IT service providers suggest their clients indulge in software maintenance services for the consistent and enhanced performance of the system.

What is Software Maintenance?

Put simply, this is a process that optimizes the solution’s performance by reducing errors, eliminating useless development and applying advanced development. From our perspective, solution development can take a couple of years to build a system while software maintenance management can be an ongoing activity – some 15 to 20 years in the making.

Why is a software maintenance plan necessary? There are a number of reasons, including:

  • Bug Fixing – This process contains “search out” protocols for errors in code and corrects them.
  • Capability Enhancement – This enhances software platforms, work patterns, hardware upgrades, compliers and all other aspects that affect system workflow.
  • Removal of Outdated Functions – Elements of UI and coding are removed and replaced with new development using the latest tools and tech.
  • Performance Improvement – This prevents the solution from experiencing vulnerabilities such as hacking.

Annual Enhancement Plans: An Insurance Policy…of Sorts

An annual enhancement plan, in the IT environment, increases the value you receive from your investment in software and other solutions while extending their life and reducing total cost of ownership. Additionally, you will experience:

  • New Product Releases – You can rest assured knowing you’ll always have the latest and greatest version of a software product; when it comes to Insight Works products, we continuously improve our solutions based on the latest trends, market changes and customer feedback.
  • Future-Proofed Software Updates – As certain software manufacturers – for example, Microsoft with its Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly known as NAV) – look to advance their products, you can revel in the knowledge that regular software updates help ensure those products continue to run smoothly.
  • Access to Support and Technical Resources – Depending on the company you go with for your annual enhancement plans, you can benefit from such features as Tier 3 support resources including troubleshooting, configuration and other assistance – often available via email, phone and remote sessions.
  • 24/7/365 Access to Online Support Portals – Online support portals boast rich knowledge bases that support users with training, troubleshooting and how-to resources.
  • No Hidden Costs or Surprise Expenses – Without an annual enhancement plan from a reputable provider, you run the risk that software stops functioning as expected – ultimately leading to downtime and failure to meet customer expectations. It goes without saying that loss of business, coupled with expenses to fix such problems, can become a formidable burden; an annual enhancement plan mitigates the risk while also allowing you to budget the annual costs to keep things running smoothly.
  • No Lapsed Fees – Companies that forego an annual enhancement plan (only to be faced with the need to upgrade years later) will be required to pay annual enhancement fees in arrears.

In Closing

We would like to stress that in the case of the aforementioned Dynamics 365 Business Central, an independent software vendor (ISV) doesn’t always know what technical changes Microsoft is planning, so in this scenario, an annual enhancement plan becomes something of an insurance policy. What does this insurance policy ensure? That third-party add-ons continue to work even when Microsoft makes changes to its platform.

For more information about product enhancement plans and how we can help you implement them, contact Insight Works today.