Have you ever wondered why some care management software companies insist on tying their customers into long-term contracts? I’ll say straight-up that it’s not an approach we use or advocate, but I’ll try and present as balanced a view of the arguments as I can.
First of all, choosing any software to manage an important aspect of your business is not a trivial decision. Whatever the licence might cost there are many other activities such as data migration and training that need to happen. Realistically, and particularly in the case of domiciliary care management, it’s not a decision you would want to revisit every 6 months.
So, you might argue, what is the harm in signing up for 2 or 3 years if, realistically, you wouldn’t change your system any more frequently?
Many software vendors would also point to the benefits of having a long-term guaranteed income stream that they can invest in improving and supporting the product. Again, that seems like a reasonable point. But is it really?
You can actually argue it either way. If customers are locked into long-term contracts and forces of inertia make them reluctant to change, how much of a commercial incentive is there to have a relentless programme of improvements to make the system as effective as it can possibly be in meeting customers’ needs.
I’m tempted to think of Microsoft here. They were confident for so long that they had our desktops sewn up that they lost their focus on delivering solutions that people genuinely valued. They’re now paying the price for that complacency. And lack of cash certainly wasn’t the reason that they failed to keep up with what their customers needed!
The ultimate test, as always, is what your experience tells you. In return for a long-term contractual lock-in, are care businesses seeing the benefits of investment, development and excellent customer service? If you are then I guess the argument is justified. But if you’re not it raises the question of who’s really getting the benefit from the long-term contracts.
The reason that CareForIT doesn’t, and never will, insist on contractual tie-ins is that we don’t want to end up looking like one Microsoft, with so many customers sticking with us because it seems too difficult to change.
The fact that our customers pay by the month and can opt-out at any time keeps us keen and focused. And for us that is the surest way of ensuring that we never lose focus on understanding what our customers need and on delivering excellent value and service.
The benefit for us is that we know we’ll never lose touch or lose our focus on developing and supporting the product – and that’s our best guarantee of long-term success.
Dan Farrell-Wright, Technical Director, CareForIT
Domiciliary care management made simple.