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For custom built web based software, what is the industry standard or generally accepted cost for support and maintenance of the software?

Is it usual to be expressed as a % of the original development cost, and if so what is the usual % amount?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 3 '11 at 9:09

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1 Answer

It depends. Not only products are different, but support is different too.

Products:

Take a basic software product which does not require specific skills for the support. The daily work of the support is just to help basic users with no enough IT knowledge to understand how to accomplish some tasks with the software. The only thing to know for the person to work in support is how to use it.

Compare this to a huge software product which is used by IT professionals and system administrators, which require years of experience in IT in general and years of learning of your product. Now you have to hire more experienced people, pay them more and train them longer.

Support scale:

Take a basic support by mail: customers ask you how to do things, you answer.

Compare it to a need of building a call center for the 24h/24 support by phone, hiring specialists who will travel to help the customers in their companies for the most difficult tasks, having people who can answer specific needs quickly under pressure, etc.

Example 1:

You are a freelancer and one of your customers ask you to build a tool which will analyze the server logs to provide some useful data about the visitors, what they do, etc. You have:

  • One customer,
  • Small product you know very well,
  • Non-critical environment.

The cost of such support may be very low. You don't have to hire anyone; you don't even have to be available. You can spend a few days answering, because an issue with your product does not affect business continuity of your user.

Example 2:

You are a software company and you're requested to create a software product which is used by several hospitals to control MRI scanners. You have:

  • One or several customers, but lots of users,
  • Large software product which cannot possibly be written by one person and known entirely by one person,
  • Critical environment.

Now the cost will be extremely high. You have to build a call center, hire people, and you can't afford spending days answering questions in such environment.

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We are a small software house doing web app/cloud solutions, we have 4 developers, the client is interstate, the application is a hybrid cms/crm for a luxury yatch broker that took 10 man/months effort. What would you propose is a fair cost to support all issues ie. fix any defects, make minor enhancement/changes, manage a VPS server, and offer unlimited email and phone support? –  ShayneM Sep 1 '11 at 7:01
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