Book:Laboratory Informatics Buyer's Guide for Medical Diagnostics and Research/Choosing laboratory informatics software for your lab/How a user requirements specification fits into the entire process
2.3 MSW, updates, and other contracted services
The maintenance, support, and warranty (MSW) offered with the vendor's solution is almost as important as the solution itself. The laboratory informatics solution you acquire is more than than the software you operate: it's mission-critical and deserves having a reliable and responsive team with the necessary resources to ensure it remains operational. Downtime can negatively affect both immediate customer satisfaction and your reputation. As such, it's imperative you ask the vendor about the details of its MSW, making sure you understand what is and isn't covered, as well as how much it will cost. Cost-wise, industry norms are anywhere from 15% to 25% of either the license fee or total contract, levied annually to provide this coverage. Alternatively, it may simply be included with your subscription. The MSW will include a specified number of support and maintenance hours or guarantees. The actual warranty should be unlimited for as long as the MSW or subscription is kept current.
Maintenance includes any and all work necessary to keep your system working as designed. It should include updates, patches, or fixes, and most if not all upgrades. (Note, however, a major upgrade to a totally new edition may not be covered, but it may come at a negotiable, significantly lower cost.) The support aspect of MSW generally consists of a specified number of hours dedicated more to helping you with the operation of the system rather than "fixing" anything. Support includes guidance on training, password or login support, and more. Finally, with any professional application you also expect to have a warranty. The warranty should cover anything that doesn't work that otherwise should for the designated period of time. That includes any standard features and functions, as well as any additional ones that were delivered and signed off on, and any other work performed by the vendor or its representatives. However, a typical warranty does not cover anything that was working fine, but upon being manipulated in a way beyond normal operation the functionality ceased. In these cases, you'll probably have to pay to get it fixed.
Beyond the MSW, additional updates and services related to the system may also be required. No matter how well it is pre-configured, any professional laboratory informatics solution will require some amount of standard setup to reflect your particular lab. This includes adding lab branding and demographics for reports and certificates; entering users, their roles, and access permissions; adding and/or modifying tests and workflows; renaming fields; adding or hiding fields; setting up a web portal; and implementing interfaces. Equally indispensable is proper training for both users and administrators. And of course you may later find that you would like additional features or functions. These and other services may prove particularly useful to the laboratory with little in the way of IT and systems expertise. As such, the vendor may provide one or more of the following as a billable service for the laboratory:
- initial implementation meeting (e.g., initial planning, identify delta, set schedule)
- project management
- requirements gathering and documentation
- initial setup
- user and administrator training
- configuration and customization
- interface development and implementation
- custom screen and field development
- custom functionality development
- custom reports and labels
- custom triggers and alerts
- validation or acceptance testing (to a third-party standard or certification, or to agreed manufacturer specs)
- Scavo, F. (8 February 2005). "High Software Maintenance Fees and What to Do About Them". Computer Economics. https://www.computereconomics.com/article.cfm?id=1033. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
- Gordon-Byrne, G. (2014). "Maintenance in the Digital World". IT Performance Improvement. Taylor & Francis, LLC. http://www.ittoday.info/ITPerformanceImprovement/Articles/2014-08GordonByrne2.html. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
Citation information for this chapter
Chapter: 2. Choosing laboratory informatics software for your lab
Title: Laboratory Informatics Buyer's Guide for Medical Diagnostics and Research
Edition: 2022 Edition
Author for citation: Shawn E. Douglas and Alan Vaughan
License for content: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
Publication date: January 2022