Source: http://www.netstorm.no/support/policy/SystemService.aspx
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We use the term product system service, as a package of:

  1. Maintenance
  2. Support

System service is limited to a single product, or a suite of products. The dividing line between support and maintenance is a bit vague from time to time, but you shouldn't worry as long as you relate to one provider for both services.
All you need to know is that you are met with support, and if guiding does not resolve your issue, the process may lead to a maintenance task which in turn is a modification to the system or its environment, carried out by NetStorm.

In most cases the system service is provided as part of an license agreement, or a separate agreement. NetStorm uses the first option for all TopView business products. The TopView license agreement illustrates the details of the mechanisms we usually rely on.

Basic coverage

The exact details are given by the agreements, but here are a few general rules:

  1. All cases involving application errors are covered by the service agreement, from search to final fix.
  2. Similarly, cases involving application behavior that differs from the documented behavior will also be totally covered.
  3. Cases where a "significant third party" changes specifications that the software product was based upon (e.g. governments and accounting), will be covered as a general rule, but if the changes involve adding a considerable amount of functionality, NetStorm will reserve the option of offering additional solution modules at a reasonable cost.
  4. Installation and update service of application installations are not included in application services, but NetStorm will at regular cost assist personnel with the same quick response as with regular application service.
  5. If, on the other hand, installation and update assistance was caused by an error in software or lack of reasonably good documentation of the operation, the case will be included in regular application service.

"Free extras"

As you probably already have noticed, the system service does not directly guarantee regular user guidance. That is, it is not guaranteed. The "extras" work this way:

  • We try to keep some extra manpower available most of the time for any user support. (those with special user support agreements don't have to care anyway)
  • We keep special attention to cases where basic use of the system, in the intended way, is not thoroughly documented. We really need to work together with our customers on this one, since we cannot foresee all normal use when trying out new features. Therefore, there will be times when documentation need to be improved, and it is important that you contact us if you can't find help in the documentation. Instead, we will help you directly and thoroughly, and then update the documentation.
  • Regular use of service agreements (like customers claiming the basic coverage mentioned above) has priority above user support requests.
  • You may contact us for user support in any way you want; forum, e-mail or phone, but remember that you in the long run will get most from using the forum, then in turn comes e-mail and phone.
    It is quite simple, if you will share your question with all users, it will help us making a product with better documentation, via the forum, and you get more attention from us. (of course, if you cannot send your request in a rather easy way without revealing sensitive information, you must use e-mail after all)
  • Whenever we have to choose, service customers with larger agreements, that has not used the free support too much, will come first. This does not apply to the use of the forum, where we encourage lots of activity!
  • The "free extras" does not consume towards the bounds of the agreement!

The result? Statistics shows lots of free resources due to extremely low rate of errors with NetStorm business products!
Very little problem solving needed. Instead much help for improved use and benefits of your system!


Mandatory System Service

The bits and pieces around, keeping our products alive and growing.

This document is intended to explain the charge/delivery model of NetStorm business software products. It is good reading if you ever wondered what the items in the price lists were meant for, or whether this is right for your company.

All current business products from NetStorm are based on standard agreements with mandatory system service, having an annual fee. This has been our approach for many years now, and not a single license has been treated as an exception. We are confident that this model is the absolutely best one, for both NetStorm and customers.

All NetStorm products are either meant, or nevertheless sold, for the vertical software market. That means we are making products for one industry at the time. To narrow targets further, we highly specialize for applications within each industry. As marketing people would say, NetStorm is after "the long tail", meaning that we pursue product ideas in new ways, making a living out of small and often uncertain market segments, which would usually turn out to be unprofitable for most companies using conventional approaches.

As you might have guessed from our selection of segments, the number of sold licenses will never reach the sky. Furthermore, we have only reached a fraction of the estimated potential until now, as new markets require maturation. The development costs have been enormous, so each license currently represents a significant part of the investment.

We already had valuable experience when designing the charge/delivery system, and knew what we wanted from the model:

  1. It had to work from the first licensee.
  2. It had to be easy for the licensee, to see what they paid, and what they got.
  3. Mechanisms must be easy for NetStorm to interpret, so we could predict required increases in manpower at an early stage, and in case we wanted to engage a third party service provider.
  4. The licensee should be assured that the scope of the agreement is sufficient to fix errors and perform other maintenance.
  5. NetStorm should be assured that the scope of the agreement did not impose a risk of draining resources or making us unable to deliver fully.
  6. It also had to work to the last licensee; meaning that there were assuring mechanisms to keep service going, even if other companies stopped using the product.
  7. The licensee should not risk a loss of a huge initial fee, in case the product over time did not turn out to fit their business. It is easier to justify reasonable annual fees when the product turns out to make the licensee increase profit.

We decided to implement the model like this:

  1. The initial license fee should as a minimum carry NetStorm's cost of establishing the license agreement, committing the initial delivery (making the software available for the users), and include a reasonable share of the related costs from marketing and other administrative functions. Whenever possible the initial license fee should also carry some of the preceding development costs.(has occurred infrequently, see pt. 6 and 7 below)
  2. There should be no baseline service fee. That is, you don't pay annual fee without getting anything!
  3. The entire service fee should fully represent a guarantee of available consulting hours.
  4. The mandatory annual service fee is usually set at 20% of the initial license fee. The licensee can request extended bounds for improved guarantee, but not request less.
  5. Error fixing updates should be free of cost.
  6. There should be no refund for "unused" system service resources. Years with little error fixing simply means that the NetStorm Development Team has done a good job in design, implementation and preventative maintenance. We don't think customers will insist on being halted by errors to feel every penny being spent!
  7. If NetStorm's cost to fulfill the service agreement were less than the income of the agreement, the remainder would be paying back preceding development costs. Since NetStorm is in good financial condition, with no loans, and has owners committed to growth, earnings from system service will mean strong and continued product development. That is, more and better choices for the customers.

The result can be seen in our license contract templates.