Understanding Project Support for Clients

Also see: User Support

Greetings WTIM Software Development Customers:  

Email Support Project Support Estimates Infrastructure Support Infrastructure

As your web site developer and hosting provider, WTIM Software endeavors to keep both your web site running and email connected and configured properly. We are happy to provide these services, and as a point of reference we consider web sites and other complex tasks as "Projects".

Since you have selected WTIM Software you have Managed Email Services. We provide Managed Email and its support at no cost as part of your Managed Hosting service agreement that was detailed in your original web site proposal. 

Email - What role does it play?

As time passes we have found that email has morphed into mission critical groupware along with many uses of smartphones applications. We have continually improved our email server and it now support groupware activities such as shared folders, calendars and contacts.

Providing support presents an issue:

For example:  A customer or customer employee calls into our office reporting they can no longer get email. We of course are very concerned and want to help immediately. After working with the customer we determined the problem was not their email, but that their internet connection was down, or their computer had a virus affecting email. During the call we give step-by-step advice on how restore or reconfigure the system and standby while these steps are performed as well as provide follow up calls and status email messages to the local tech support provider. Usually, the customer’s connection is restored and they and we both get on with our lives. 

Since WTIM Software’s primary business focus is developing computer software and web sites, we generally do not provide local computer technical support, except where it specifically relates to the systems we develop for our customers. 

This puts us in a quandary. With this in mind, we need ask you, our valued customers, for your understanding when email support calls turns into general technical support calls, rather than just an email configuration issue. 

We, like all technical service providers, need to be paid for our time beyond making sure your email works. To be clear, WTIM Software will provide you and your staff with email-configuration technical support at no cost, but beyond that, we need to be compensated for our time.  It is not possible to predict if an “email” support call will turn into a “technical” support before the issue is resolved. 

This is where we need to establish some give-and-take and a clear understanding regarding our services as well as how we bill for project work. Our revised billing policy for support and project work starting will be as follows: 

1. Email Support Calls: If an email support call turns into general tech support call, your business or your user home computer owner can expect to be billed for a minimum of 30 minutes of our time or $45. Note: The transition to a tech support call happens about 30% of the time. Email-configuration support is still covered at no cost. 

If one of your employees calls about configuring their home computer we also support that configuration work at no cost to you, except where it turn into general computer support. We expect that you will share with your employees that if a user calls about their home computer, that they will personally get a bill for the non-email work unless there is a prior arrangement or we have been ask to "just take care of it." We will be broadcasting a short guidance email message to all email users regarding this and plan to resend it on a yearly basis,

2. Computer Support Calls: If we are not on retainer basis and you or your users call us for computer support regarding a non-email related issues expect to be billed for 60 minutes of our time or $110. If you have an ongoing support retainer deposited you are invoiced for these in 20 minute increments. Emergency work after normal business hours (M-F 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. and on weekends) is billed at the hourly rate is $155 per hour.  Travel time is reimbursed at 50% of the billing rate.

3. Project Support Calls regarding On going Development Projects and Project Rollouts: 

Training / Rollout Phase - This occurs normally during the first 6 months of deployment: These calls are usually covered at no charge. An exception is when additional features are requested, or where support issues go beyond the scope of the original project for example linking in training on the use of other software programs (e.g. FileMaker, InDesign, MS-Acess, MS-SQL Server, MS-Outlook, FTP programs, Remote Control programs, etc.), or you request our technical knowlesge and research for the consideration of, development and consulting on how to acheive a particular goal.  

Estimates:

WTIM Software breaks estimates into these 5 categories.

1. Extended Project Work: Fixed Price:  Projects lasting more than 8 hours where WTIM Software provides a written estimate includes 6 months of free follow-up support as  well as six months errors and omissions support and free training. 

2. Short Project Work Estimated: Short Project work usually less that one day or 8 hours and the hourly estimates are usually verbal. If the work ends up being more complex that estimated, and we work over the estimated hours we reserve the right to bill the balance of time at 50% the regular rate. We will inform you as soon as we know this occurs. 

3. Short Project Work - Not Estimated:  Projects for requested tasks thought at the time to be short projects may include cases such as "must do“ projects (see #5), or a project too small to provide an estimate cost. In most cases these projects take one day 8 hours or less and will be billed at our regular rate.

4. Long Project Work - Estimated:  Projects for requested tasks that are subject to a full detailed estimate are scheduled with respect other onging projects at the discretion of WTIM Software, with allowances for unforseen circumstances as well as emergencies. These project genereally take from 8-400 hours to complete.

5. "Must Do" Requested Project Work: Projects for requested tasks that must be completed regardless of the time consideration are considered "Must Do“ projects. These projects are requested without reservation and the project is either too small to provide an estimate or simply too complex due to unknown technical considerations. In most cases these projects one day or less will be billed at our regular rates. For example: completing a modification / upgraded to an existing shopping cart to comply with the new PCI standards) or installing a code patch or upgrade to continue to have a secure web site. 

6. Web Site Infrastructure Projects: WTIM Software monitors the security of your web site's code, server subsystems, third-party tools as well as checking several daily security newsletters for new attack methods. To secure your web site, we reserve the right to act on your behalf before or whenever a security threat arrises. We may even shutdown for short periods of time and require paid updates or even replacements to third-party tools when your site tools or configuration falls out of date. 

7. Annual Site Security and Compatability Review: Starting in 2016 reviews are required once a year for all WTIM Software hosted web site for dynamic or database driven web site. The fee is dependent on the complexity of your site where all the tools and code bases used to make your site run are listed examined against know security issues and reported back to you as potential security issues to be corrected.

8. Web Site Software Maintenance: Web sites have become more complex than as recent as five years ago. Sites that once had a few hundred files now have tens of thousand of files and many hundreds of thousands of lines of code, as well one or more as integrated third-party applications tools. 

Third-party tools that were once considered rock solid for security can and do become open to hackers over time. This exposes your web site's pages to risks of being overwritten, defaced or private information being stolen. Your should be aware, for your protection, that WTIM Software may at its sole discretion take off-line your web site, any third-party software tool, its own custom developed software, database servers, and even links to previously uncompromized tools if we become aware that a risk is present.

As well, WTIM Software monitors over 20 technical and security news channels each month, at no cost to our customers, but the cost of our time in disabling and then updating these third-party software tools is paid by our customers. We also may require occasionally that you reset all your passwords.

9. Web / Email Server Reboots: Our servers have high up time, but intermittantly we must reboot the server to install updates or perform hardware upgrades. Usually we try to do this after midnight EST. But occasionally we do this at other times. If you wish to be informed of this via text message please let us know. Full reboots can take from 3-5 minutes and our server software reboot take about 1.5 minutes. 

10. Consultant "Best Practices": We first and foremost want our customers to succeed! Virtually all of our customers have asked us to think “out of the box” for them going beyond doing just what we are asked. 

Specifically we are asked to help them see their businesses current needs and advise them on upcoming technologies and aid implementing best practices. We listen carefully and act as advisors during support calls on the best technical and security practices. We recoup this time either billing directly for the support call time or separately as “research time” or by building the time into ongoing or future projects estimates. 

If you not comfortable with this and rather not have this forward-thinking relationship please let us know. 

11. Watch those Email Messages: Our normal communication is usually via email and occasionally telephone. We use email to send you status reports and ask questions. It is very important during development that you respond to these emails in a timely fashion - preferably, as soon as you receive them or within 1-2 days at most. We like email because it is unambiguous and acts as an excellent audit log. 

Non-Response Policy: If we do not hear back from you within 48 hours or 2 full business days, we will proceed based upon an affirmative response to the questions we posed in the email messages. As well, if the project is completed we will conclude that we have your consent to proceed to billing. We do this to move projects forward and serve other customers.

Conclusion

We appreciate your trust in allowing us to take the time to share and make suggestions whenever something can be improved. The benefit of these “best practice” suggestions usually far out way the cost. We promise to do our very best to keep costs within the realm of reasonability and to keep you apprised of all costs. 

If you do not want the expense of those suggestions and guidance you must advise us not to act as your "best practices" consultant and only focus on the problem at hand. 

We are still considering what features a web site maintenance program with security reviews should offer. We thank you for your understanding.hese changes take effect September 2, 2016 and are subject to change. Last Updated: September 2, 2016.

Thank you for understanding the necessity of these changes.

Please feel free to call or email us with any questions you may have. 

WTIM Software, Inc. Copyright © 2016 WTIM Software, INC. All rights reserved
WTIM Software, Inc., 141 Granite Ave Ext • Canaan • CT 06018 • 860-453-4260