Ask the right question about support and VOC

If you are an end user and consider purchasing a manufacturing operations systems or if you already own one, what questions do you ask your software vendor? All MOM and industrial software vendors offer or require a 20%-25% maintenance fee per year. Ask some specific questions: 1. What is the profit margin? 2. What percentage goes into new software development? 3. What percentage goes into bug fixes and patches? 4. Time period for release and approval of platform vendor (Microsoft, HP, etc.) security patches? Typical for MOM vendors is 90 days!!! 5. How is the software development path determined? Percentage based on existing customer feature requirement (Voice of Customer)? Percentage based on bug fixes? Percentage based on technology change such DCOM to SOA? Percentage based on Request for Proposals over the last 24 months (Voice of the Market)? Percentage based on competition? Percentage based on compliance with maturing industrial standards like ISA 88 and 95? Many vendors are not addressing these questions. These issues need to be addressed or the existing solutions will be come very expense to own in the near future.