The Attivo Group will get your system implemented - on time and within budget. Realize increased efficiencies, lower costs and improve profits. As trusted advisors for distributors, manufacturers and service providers, we will help you improve and automate your business processes.
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05-09-2013 / The Who, What, Why and When of Standard Costing
05-06-2013 / Effects of Barcoding Felt Well Beyond the Warehouse
04-29-2013 / Macola in the Cloud: A Match Made in Heaven
04-15-2013 / Understanding the Hidden Savings of Cloud ERP is Key
04-09-2013 / Behind the Numbers: Why Smart Money is on ERP
03-28-2013 / EDI - Taking Your ERP to the Next Level
03-11-2013 / Moving to the Cloud in 4 Easy Steps
03-06-2013 / Looking Past the Shop Floor to Improve Lead Times
02-26-2013 / In the World of Cloud Computing, Speed Can Kill
02-13-2013 / What Exactly is a "Dedicated Cloud"
02-07-2013 / 3 Revenue Pitfalls To Avoid When Moving to the Cloud
01-30-2013 / Where is ERP Heading for 2013?
01-24-2013 / Why Cloud Hosted ERP is Set to Take Off in 2013
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Comprehensive Help Technical support has a lot more to do with just an error message on the screen. When it comes to supporting Accounting and ERP systems, when you call for help, the last thing you need to hear is "that's not covered under technical support". Why not have a support plan that will address all of the day to day needs that come up? While a support line can't be effective at major implementation efforts, if managed well, it sure can improve your productivity. At Attivo, we've developed a plan called "Full Value Support". It not only covers error correction, but all of the "how to" questions, user refresher training, assistance with custom report writing, and other small budget tasks that every company needs. A quarterly budget is mutually agreed upon for the quarter, and if the entire budget isn't used, the unused portion becomes "rollover minutes". The Customer Portal Makes it Work To keep it as affordable as possible, each customer receives access to a comprehensive online support portal, where all of their system information and documentation is stored. The portal also provides access to helpful how-to documents, training guides, release notes, etc. to allow as much self-service as possible. You can also log support requests using the portal, which comes in handy for late-night or non-critical requests, which provides a confirmation email to you, and immediately notifies our entire technical staff as well. Response Time and Feedback are Critical Response time is critical, since a "system down" condition can't wait. Regardless, no one should have to waste their time trying to log a support incident or request help. Call Attivo during business hours, and you get a live person 99% of the time. I've always said that if you're going to provide support, you should answer the phone! When an issue takes a little while to resolve (some could take hours, days or even weeks), periodic feedback is provided to update status on the issue. This lets you know that we haven't forgotten about your issue. Not every issue gets resolved on the spot, and status is often equally important as resolution. Not getting this kind of support from your provider? Show them this blog post. Let them know that you have alternatives!
Using an Accounting or ERP system? Got Support? In the normal course of business, something will go wrong with your accounting/ERP system, causing grief and inefficiency until the problem is resolved. Guaranteed. The more complex the system is, the more it happens. So what are the options for getting the help that you need when you need it? First, let's clear the air on some confusing terminology. Most software developers charge annual maintenance fees, which typically cover just updates to the software, or the actual right to be able to continue using the program from one year to the next. This often costs anywhere from 10-20% of the original software license cost, and is charged at the original purchase and each year thereafter. Technical support, on the other hand, is assistance via phone or email in resolving issues and errors that come up while installing or operating the software. Technical support can be provided by either the software developer (author), or by a third party such as a software reseller or consulting firm. Some larger companies have in-house experts to provide almost all of this support, except for perhaps code-based errors that only the developer can resolve. So, what are the purchase options? Most software developers and consultants offer two options for technical support. The usual two options are an unlimited support plan, or a per-incident plan. The unlimited support plan is usually quite costly, such as 10% of the software cost per year. Often this is wrapped up with a "maintenance plan" that can cost north of 20% per year. The per incident support plan is usually priced as a cost per incident (regardless of how short or long it takes to resolve). Another version of per incident support is to start the clock running every time the client calls, and bill for actual time incurred (perhaps subject to some minimum billing). The most annoying part of most support plans is being told "I'm sorry, but this is not a technical support issue. I'll have our Consulting Manager prepare a quote for this". In other words, you're not covered. For this reason, I'm not a big fan of unlimited support, since it has to exclude anything except true support issues, or it will be abused and be too costly for the provider. I also don't think per incident plans are much better, since a lot of cost is created in administering the incident pool, or billing the client for each and every phone call. Those costs must ultimately be passed on to the customer. Customers often hesitate to call for support, since they know they're going to get an invoice, and choose to gut it out themselves rather than reach out for help (and stay productive!). So what is the better mousetrap for Technical Support? After doing this kind of support for the last 17 years, we developed a plan that we call Full Value Support. This is administered as a quarterly budget of estimated consulting time required for technical support AND small consulting projects such as report writing, user training, etc. We send one quarterly statement and invoice, and if there is any unused time from the original budget, it becomes "rollover minutes". Every 6 months we review the budget to be sure it isn't too high or too low, and discuss ways to keep the cost as low as possible with the client, by using many of the self-help tools that we make available to them in their unique client web portal. We also point out where any system (or people) weaknesses exist, which may be causing unnecessary expense. Full Value Support makes sense for both our clients as well as our support team. We provide Exact Macola Technical Support, Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains Technical Support, and QuickBooks Support in this manner and our clients love it. Their systems are well documented on our client portal, the self-help tools are there, and resources available that allow them to keep their costs low. Shared responsibility for keeping costs under control - now there's a "new economy" concept by which we can all prosper!