Enterprise software support is an essential aspect of maintaining and optimizing your organization’s software systems. Enterprise software systems are vital to every element of your operations: from financial reporting to inventory and supply chain management to business development – and many other aspects besides. Confidence in these systems is critical. It’s never enough to simply purchase and build a software infrastructure and hope that functionality will sustain indefinitely. Your organisation knows this, which is why you’ll rely on a software maintenance package to ensure your systems are running efficiently and being updated as necessary, with minimal downtime.
Many corporations believe that only the software vendors themselves can offer the expertise required to maintain their software products to this level. But let’s be introspective for a moment. Look at your business’s operations as a whole and ask the following questions: does your current in-house software support and maintenance package provide the exact value you need? These contracts can be expensive and absorb a large portion of your budget, often increasing every year at renewal time. Do you feel like you’re getting unparalleled software expertise and access to a dedicated team that can help your business run seamlessly? Does your software maintenance partner share your visions and goals for the next stages in your business and your growth plans? If not, it might be time to explore other options.
The Upgrade Cycle
Major ERP providers upgrade and refresh their services and offerings regularly in an effort to push forward their own digital transformation strategies and to continually provide customers with access to new and emerging technologies.
For SAP, the most recent overhaul to its systems is the release of S/4 HANA. For many businesses, moving to S/4 HANA and fully embracing cloud working represents the biggest change ever to their business operations. So before embarking on such a change, it’s crucial that every business can work hand-in-hand with a support and maintenance team that understands how these upgrades will affect the business. Business leaders should also plan to work together with this team to retain functionality and ideally improve processes. And yet the reality is that many businesses often find themselves nudged into upgrades that they’re not completely sold on.
Worse still, some customers find themselves in the position of paying for an upgrade that the business doesn’t need – as well as forking out for the support that comes with it. In fact, some Business Suite customers have reported that after being sold S/4 HANA and later deciding they no longer wanted or needed it, they were left paying for the new software regardless, as the cost was bundled in with the support and maintenance costs of their legacy ERP software. When embarking on a major upgrade, no business wants to be confronted with such rigid inflexibility.
The business impact of software support decisions shouldn’t be underestimated. When thinking about what they want to get out of their software support contract, most enterprises immediately consider de-risking their IT systems and cost-effectiveness. But another major consideration for firms should be how to get the best operational value out of their software investments.
Support packages should enable your business to streamline its operational processes, minimise waste, stay within a designated budget, and, crucially, mirror exactly your business’s plans and goals for operational growth or transformation. We all accept that the software stack must meet a business’s unique needs. But so must the accompanying support.
What does this look like in practice? A software support team should be viewed as your long-term strategic partner or shareholder. The team supporting your day-to-day systems should understand your business’s goals, want to help you realise them, and work with you to create a system that brings this vision to life. Support or maintenance providers shouldn’t exist just to provide a perfunctory service – they need to be invested in what you’re doing.
Cost-reductions for Multi-faceted Corporations
We know that telecom firms usually rely on heavily customised sets of SAP or Oracle instances to manage key financial and operational functions. This means that a large chunk of the enterprise’s IT budget is reserved for software, and a sizable fraction of that software spend is reserved for software support. Over a five-year engagement the support cost can exceed the software licence. Is the support you’re getting good value-for-money?
For many enterprises the actual spend itself is often considered a normal cost of running critical software. But you must be able to account for the spend and demonstrate how crucial it is. For enterprise software support to really work, a personalised, customised approach is required. Where the software giants offer this personalised support – and many of them don’t – it is eye-wateringly expensive.
So, many businesses, perhaps yours included, end up paying even higher prices for their enterprise software support to cover a complex and multi-use software stack, even if many of the products within it aren’t used by the organisation. What’s the point in paying support costs for products you don’t need just because they exist under the vendor’s software umbrella? You are paying for new software development of their cloud offering that you may not migrate to for years, if ever.
Third-party software support minimises operational overheads and provides a truly personalised approach. These solutions go beyond just the functional: at the heart of third-party support is a holistic approach to software maintenance, which sees enterprises and support teams working together.
This is all offered as standard with the added reassurance that third-party support specialists are experts in their fields, often having worked in-house as software specialists and engineers at Oracle or SAP themselves.
As an enterprise software customer, you can and should hold the reins when negotiating with your vendors. You should decide when and what parts or your enterprise systems to upgrade, not the vendor. The days of begrudgingly committing to long-term agreements are ending as more and more customers turn to third-party support. These days, it’s a red flag if a vendor cannot outline, with certainty, how they’ll meet their customers’ business objectives. Especially for firms within rapidly evolving industries. Third-party offerings will never force customers to comply with any individual vendor’s whims or expectations solely to ensure their systems are supported. This is where third-party software support has the edge.
Martin Biggs – VP and MD EMEA and Strategic Markets, Spinnaker Support
As Spinnaker Support’s Vice President and General Manager EMEA and Strategic Markets, Martin Biggs is responsible for driving the sales and operational management of SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce services in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Martin joined Spinnaker Support after a career of 19 years at IBM where he worked in various sales and leadership roles in IBM’s services business across Asia Pacific and the United Kingdom.
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