Very interesting straw poll conducted on MSDynamicsWorld.com: Would you consider eliminating maintenance or support for your Microsoft Dynamics solution? Sadly the responding sample of 56 is too low to draw any real conclusions from but that hasn’t stopped me pondering on the potential questions this raises. Firstly, bear in mind that the questions seem stacked to be pro-Microsoft maintenance (although this is an independent site for the Dynamics community, CRM, AX, GP, NAV and SL). The question “I might eliminate support but not maintenance” was raised but not explicitly “I might consider eliminating maintenance but not support”. We also do not know which Dynamics product the responders had in mind (surely no Navision users!). And of course, as this is a poll, no one is asked to justify their choices, so I thought it might be fun to have a go at guessing the motivations and providing points to consider for anyone who may see this and wonder whether it is worth continuing to pay support and maintenance. In the majority of circumstances, the answer will almost certainly be yes, it is worth it. Q1:         No, I wouldn’t consider it: 52% Good, bold statement. Nice to see majority of responses are sensible. Maintenance (or Business Ready Enhancement Plan – BREP – as Microsoft prefers to call it) means that users are entitled to new versions of the product, service packs and hot fixes. It is Microsoft’s guarantee that the product will continue to work with the recommended operating systems regardless of any updates to that technology. It also means that should you encounter a technical problem that your partner can not fix, this can be escalated to Microsoft. Without BREP in place, and especially worrisome if you’re on a retired version of the product, your support partner can offer no guarantees that your software will continue to work (our concern is an update to the operating system, often automatic, that may interfere with your unsupported version of Dynamics; it’s yet to cause a problem but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t). Lack of BREP compromises the level of support your partner can offer. Q2:         I might eliminate support but not maintenance: 20% Only worth considering if you are supremely confident of your internal team’s ability to support. As you will still need to maintain a relationship with a partner for the maintenance renewal, it is likely you would be able to negotiate a more appropriate level of support or agreement whereby you still had an expert to fall back on if required. At TVision we’re very happy to negotiate time and material support agreements as it tends to mean we have self-sufficient clients who will turn to us with the interesting projects. Q3:         I’d consider eliminating both: 7% I am very pleased at the low response here. Only worth considering if you had a definite short-term plan to stop using the system, perhaps you’ve decided to move to another product two months after your renewal date and so you decide to take the “no safety net” approach. It’s a calculated risk; the question to ask is what would the impact on the business be if the system failed to operate tomorrow? Q4:         I’ve already eliminated one or both: 16% I suspect that this 16% reflects users who have eliminated maintenance whilst continuing support. As explained above, it is risky as it potentially compromises the level of support that can be offered and could lead to a nasty surprise if your operating system updates prove incompatible. However, if you have fallen behind updates and are on a retired version with no immediate plans to upgrade it can seem tempting. If this was you, you can always get back on plan. There is a penalty fee; however, it is almost certainly more cost effective than buying a new system. If you’re on an old version and frustrated that it no longer fits your business, I would urge you to look at the latest version or an alternative Dynamics product. For example, we’ve moved people from outgrown GP systems onto NAV where Microsoft has credited the value of the existing licence against the new one. We’ve taken people who felt they were constrained by an old version of NAV and changed hearts, minds and productivity through upgrade to the latest version. Am I banging the Microsoft drum? More than a little, although by default as my main interest is NAV. With good upgrade strategies and effective support in place, we see our clients gain year on year benefits. In the words of Enotria (8 years on NAV, turnover increased three-fold plus), “With Navision there’s no reason ever to change software.” That kind of return on investment is surely worth the best protection?