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A Guide to IT Contracting by Michael R. Overly, Matthew A. Karlyn

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8
Maintenance and Support Agreements
CHECKLIST
Fee Predictability
Price locked for a xed term
Aer rate of price increases capped at CPI
Term
Minimum period of support
Termination and Resumption of Support
Ability to resume support aer earlier expiration or termination
Specications
Support obligations tied to “specications” rather than
documentation”
Availability
Support available 24/7 if needed
Problem Escalation
Support escalation matrix
Service Levels
Escalation matrix response time service level
Service credits for service level failures
Limitations of Liability
OVERVIEW
Paid maintenance and support services provide protection following the
warranty period. “Support” includes technical support services such as
documentation, telephone help desk support, on-site support, and error cor-
rection/bug xes when the soware or service doesnt work in accordance
100  •  A Guide to IT Contracting: Checklists, Tools, and Techniques
with the specications. “Maintenance” would include the vendor’s obliga-
tions with respect to keeping the soware or service current via updates,
upgrades, enhancements, new releases and the like. e following are some
key considerations for any maintenance and support agreement.
SCOPE OF SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE
• It is important that any agreement clearly describes the support that
will be provided by identifying what soware and services will be
supported, and the amount and type of support that will be pro-
vided. Before an agreement has been signed, companies should also
inquire as to which support services are not included and will only
be provided for an additional fee, so that such information can be
factored into the negotiation process. Although vendors oen argue
that all of their clients receive the same maintenance and support,
companies should not be afraid to insist on the level of support that
is necessary to support their business needs during negotiations.
• Requirements should be specied in detail for when and how updates
can occur to avoid interference with the company’s use of the so-
ware or service.
• Vendors should provide detailed documentation and make training
available to customer’s personnel who will interact with the support
soware or service.
• It has become common for vendors to limit the amount or type of sup-
port services included without additional charge. ese arrangements
can introduce signicant uncertainty for companies regarding what
fees they will be charged in the event of a problem with the soware or
service. is uncertainty can create a reluctance to utilize support ser-
vices, which exacerbates the problem with the soware or services and
delays its resolution. e company should seek to reach an arrange-
ment with the vendor where all support activities are included in a at
fee. While vendors typically resist requests for such “all included” pro-
visions, this approach is oen worth the extra eort during negotia-
tions, especially for business-critical soware or services where going
without support and maintenance services is not a viable option.
• If a vendor rejects an “all included” approach, companies must be
certain that they understand the range of possible additional charges

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