Continuing from yesterday, here are 10 more groups of penetrating questions to ask SaaS Customer Service and IT Help Desk vendors to determine their true character.
11. Are there maintenance windows of downtime for routine server administration? When are they? Will the service always be unavailable during these windows or just some times? Will I get notifications when the service will be down during a maintenance window? How much advance notice?
12. What contract lengths do you offer, and what are the discounts that apply? Is there any flexibility in payment terms? What are renewal terms?
13. How quickly can we be up and running on your product? Does it work "out of the box"? Will it take a week, a month, a quarter or six months or longer to deploy? Will you provide an implementation plan in writing and commit to it? Who will initially pay for set-up, customization and configuration costs? Who will pay these costs on an ongoing basis? Do we need to learn a programming language to administer and customize your product? If so, what is the approximate size of the developer community; and what is the average hourly rate?
14. What is exactly included in annual software maintenance? Will we receive major releases or just bug fixes and minor enhancements? Can you please show us exactly where this is documented in your SaaS License Agreement?
15. Of course, we hope that we do not have to do this, but my company may want to cut costs in the future by not paying your annual software maintenance. Our CFO is concerned about commitments for ongoing fees. Can we stop paying software maintenance any time we want, but continue to use the software licenses? Do we need a license key from you each year? What happens if we stop paying annual software maintenance, and then we want to start paying again to obtain support? Do we have to "back pay" all the fees for software maintenance we did not previously pay?
16. What is your roadmap for future product development? What product enhancements are you planning to make over the next 12 months? How can my company be assured that you will deliver on this roadmap? What are our options if you do not deliver?
17. If we have a support issue that requires some reconfiguration, does your company charge professional services fees for this work, or is it covered under routine support?
18. We will probably learn a lot about your product after using it for the first six months or even a year. If we want to do additional customization and configuration work after the initial deployment is completed, does your company charge professional service fees for this work ,or is it covered under routine support?
19. Is a source code escrow service available? (This requires that the vendor place their source code in escrow, so that it is available if they are no longer in business.) Is there a fee for this?
20. Does the vendor ask you about your pain points? Are they interested in understanding your requirements, and will they prepare a demonstration of their capabilities based on these requirements at no cost or obligation?
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