by Mike Milligan
One of the most common questions I receive from our customers is “why should I keep my maintenance plan current? All the major accounting software vendors charge an annual maintenance fee. Software is evolving so fast that you want to keep up with the features and benefits that your competitors are getting. It may help to think of your software as if you lease it and the annual maintenance is the lease charge that keeps your software up to date with the latest enhancements. It is important to remember that in most cases, you are not “buying” software. You are buying the license to use the software. The software company retains ownership of the actual software. The maintenance plan is part of the license fee that allows you to keep up-to-date with the current version.
Microsoft is rapidly integrating its accounting software with e-mail, web, office products, MS Project, Sharepoint, and others. These enhancements only come with the latest versions. Even if you do not plan to change your accounting system significantly over the next couple of years, your operating system may change which can force you to upgrade. Microsoft recently announced .Net version of accounting software. This represents a significant move forward in technology and is typically a new Purchase. Any business that keeps their software current will get that new version free.
Microsoft has announced that they will not provide support for versions that are older than 6.0. After that age, the solution for any problem will be to update to the current version.
It costs less to update a little each year than to do a major upgrade every couple of years.
Reinstatement fees cost more than letting your service plan expire and then renewing it when you are forced to because of some business or application issue.
AccuNet cannot give you updates that may fix a software issue or call Microsoft on your behalf if your plan is not current. Even if we can, technically and legally, fix issues for non-maintenance plan customers, it takes more time and costs more money than it would for current maintenance plan customers. In many cases we simply will not be able to help you without the software patch. Staying current helps us help you!
We do not benefit significantly from maintenance plan revenue. We get a small commission for maintenance plans but AccuNet’s benefit is being able to provide better support when a client is on the current version. Additionally, maintenance plans are the same price to the client whether the plan is paid to AccuNet or Microsoft.
In summary the benefits for keeping your maintenance plan current are as follows:
- Product Updates and Service Packs – Receive all major releases, minor updates, and tax updates (With 1099’s and W-2’s changing on an annual basis, if you track 1099’s or have to produce W-2’s) for the product you currently own.
- CustomerSource and Knowledge Base Access – Take advantage of a searchable technical database, discussion boards, news, a subscription service, and more. You can search error messages and download procedures on how to process year-end 1099’s and many other business processes. CustomerSource will help you make better use of your system and make you a more independent user.
- Unlimited Online Training – Give your employees unlimited access to E-Learning, training manuals, and other productivity-enhancing tools.
- Protected List Price – Minimize price fluctuations so you can more easily budget for your renewals. Microsoft often runs promotions that give support plan customers significant discounts on training, additional modules and user packs.
- Transition Investment Credits – Apply full license credit toward a move to any other Microsoft Dynamics Financial Management or Supply Chain Management solution. If your maintenance plan is current and you decide you want to move to another Microsoft accounting product, AX, NAV, GP or SL, you get the retail value of your software towards another purchase. Since these products have different feature sets, this helps protect your software investment should your business change or grow into different needs.
One final note is that many of the 3rd Party (SL Add-on) Products that we work with have a similar maintenance structure as Microsoft. If you need any further information on your existing maintenance plan, Please contact Steve Williams at 614-899-9900 ext. 122 or firstname.lastname@example.org