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Five Drivers for Internal versus External Software Support

August 11, 2015
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Enterprise Software Systems are becoming like the telecom companies. Try giving any of the major telecom companies a call about a technical issue or billing question. You might as well record your question, because you will keep repeating it until you find someone that can correct it, then be prepared to call back when the issue still does not get resolved.

We are getting down to just a select few vendors that offer an Enterprise Solution for both inpatient and ambulatory systems. This of course within the large organizations with multiple hospitals or the academic medical center market. This just means that more clients are competing for support in an already crowded, resource lean vendor market.

Migrating to a new platform is daunting enough. But after the go-live party, the vendor installation team moves on to the new client and you are left with a phone number to call. “Congratulations, you have reached the support line, press #1 for someone that can listen to your issue, press #2 for a sympathetic patronizing response, and press #3 to be placed on hold until the person that can really fix your problem gets off the phone with the previous ten callers.”

CIOs recognize that they have to augment the vendor support with a day to day team. This internal support performs maintenance functions like dictionary or table updates, adding or removing users, and acts as the first support tier when the system does not operate how the user expects. Your internal support often has basic “super user” knowledge and depending on the vendor and your contract, you may be able to actually troubleshoot software issues internally.

Here is the rub: If you pay an ungodly amount in support fees to your vendor, why should you have all these FTE’s sitting around waiting for the system to break? At least that’s how the “C” suite looks at it. New software systems always start with an expected ROI, and sometimes this includes downsizing the current information technology department. After all, this new Enterprise Software will replace all the other systems, so you will not need all these different support skill sets; right? At least that was the plan. Talk to anyone that has gone through the post installation of software and you will hear that buyer’s remorse of getting rid of all those resources and cubicle space. Caveat Emptor. Because now all the user support calls and response time for productivity issues are bubbling up to the board room, and the CIO is wearing the target. Never mind the ROI now, tell me how I can keep all these complaints out of my email?! Five things to think about: