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Subscription only software - would you?

Discussion in 'Sales, Marketing, Pricing Etc.' started by Slamdunkpro, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. Slamdunkpro

    Slamdunkpro Member

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    Estimate has just announce the release of V3 of their pricing / quote software. OK fine, but it's only going to be available as a monthly subscription. Stop paying, it stops working. How do you all feel about subscription only software that is vital to your business? Seems like this is a license for a SW vendor to keep a product in permanent "beta" mode with a never ending stream of updates and features that you may or may not want and may or may not work correctly. I usually skip a release or at least delay to allow for the bug fixes to catch up. On the business side, the idea of never ending payments or the product stops working just rubs me raw.

    Subscription only is a deal breaker for me, how about you?
     
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  2. Bigdawg

    Bigdawg Just Me

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    Would be a deal breaker for me. Can't even imagine what happens when they screw up the billing (I'm sorry sir, I can't seem to locate your payment.) or when their server goes down... or any of the other scenerios that make it a risky venture.
     
  3. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    I had one online based software once.. Once!. Never again. It was an online bizz management software.

    Any dispute with service and you have no recourse. You wither pay or get no service. The internet goes down and you have no service. Their server breaks and you have no service. They do an update that does not work on your machine,, you get no service until its fixed.
     
  4. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    $69 per month is a little steep, too, IMO
     
  5. Slamdunkpro

    Slamdunkpro Member

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    I don't think that Estimate is going to be online based - more like an online dongle, but the effect is the same, if you stop paying it stops working..
     
  6. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    In any case. I personally will not use any software with this model.
    Not a chance, no way no how.
     
  7. Slamdunkpro

    Slamdunkpro Member

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    I agree.
     
  8. luggnut

    luggnut Very Active Member

    I have etimate 2.0 and i really like it but no way would i use a subscription..

    i wonder if they are gonna try to shut down the 2.0 users somehow?
     
  9. royster13

    royster13 Very Active Member

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    Welcome to the future......I think it is only a matter of time before most "specialized" software is offered on this basis....For even a small shop you are talking less than 1/2% of sales for a very useful piece of software.....
     
  10. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    it doesnt sound like it from the article...

    If there are plugins or add-ons for EstiMate 2 that you have been wanting, and you don't want to move to EstiMate 2011 when it is released, get plugins or add-ons NOW on our website - there is an automatic 15% discount or the option to make up to 6 payments, and all EstiMate 2 sales will cease on October 1.


    http://www.estimatesoftware.com/blog/announcing-estimate-2011/
     
  11. TheSnowman

    TheSnowman Major Contributor

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    I haven't used my original Estimate once, because I haven't taken the time to set it up. However, the online never ending payment, especially at that price, no way.
     
  12. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    Until it goes down and it costs a day of production, or at least a few hours of aggravation.


    This is not a new idea.
    It has been discussed long ago back in the 80's and early 90's when I was involved with software authoring. So far, the models proposed have not developed into a viable solution in many cases. Many have attempted to make this work and most of those have abandoned it.
     
  13. Gene@mpls

    Gene@mpls Very Active Member

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    I too am concerned about this- my understanding is that the people who
    sign up for the subscription service do not have to pay the 900-1000
    up front- just the monthly. I am not sure where this leaves those of us
    who dutifully bought the software- can we not purchase the upgrade out-
    right. I am guessing that Mark Smith will be monitoring this thread and
    communicating with us- he is a good guy. Gene
     
  14. The Vector Doctor

    The Vector Doctor Very Active Member

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    I wonder too about online/offline computers. Some people have certain computers that do not connect to the internet for safety reasons.

    There was a time when I had no internet for 3 days but I was still able to at least get work done. If Adobe were ever to do this I could see potential issues

    And then there are issues with where your data is stored. What happens when anything is stored online and a company shuts down? You cannot buy Freehand but some people that still use that graphic software
     
  15. Replicator

    Replicator Major Contributor

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    Seems bunk to me, but the fact is . . .

    In the very near future all software will be executed through an online access with your purchased license !

    I won't do it though !
     
  16. Safetyguy

    Safetyguy New Member

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    I think there is a little confusion over HOSTED vs subscription...
    Hosted = running on their server, through the Internet.
    Subscription = running in your office, but requiring a new electronic key every month.
    It is the way of the future, as any updates & enhancements are automatically applied.

    We have Estimate & it still runs when the internet is down. I can also load it on my laptop & do quotes on the road...
     
  17. luggnut

    luggnut Very Active Member

    I think the new version won't be like this.. it will be internet based totally from what i understand? 2.0 had the internet electronic key
     
  18. Slamdunkpro

    Slamdunkpro Member

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    From what I understand it resides on your system, but it validates the key every time you sign on or every 30 days (depending on who you talk to).

    We deal with subscription software for a non-profit organization I'm involved with. My issue with the whole concept is that once a vendor goes this route, they no longer feel obligated to response to the needs of the user base. They just write whatever "enhancements" they feel will get them new clients since the current user base is pretty much married to them.

    The other thing is that now, the SW is no longer a business asset, it's a continuing liability. If I decide to sell I can't say "and you also get this quoting / pricing package when you buy the business" - it's now "oh and we use this quoting / pricing package that's a monthly charge of $69"
     
  19. Mark Smith

    Mark Smith Member

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    Wow! Slamdunkpro, thank you for posting this - and thank you to everybody for your feedback! This has the makings of a good Frequently Asked Questions list. I really appreciate the opportunity to address your questions.

    This post was just brought to my attention, and it's already quite long, so I'll be cutting and pasting and answering individual quotes here. I've reorganized them to keep my thoughts coherent and so I don't have to keep referring one question back to another in my answers.

    I hope very much that this helps clear up confusion for everyone.

    EstiMate 2011 will never stop working - it will just go into a "read only" mode if your subscription stops. You will continue to have unlimited access to everything you ever did with it, and print any reports.

    EstiMate 2011 is still Windows based desktop software (it is built on top of Version 2). The only time it connects to the internet is when it downloads a new license file for you, either once a month or once a year, depending on how you paid for your plan.

    Since EstiMate is desktop software, you don't have to worry about our servers going down - and our customer database is backed up several times a day. As for your payments, they are processed through Authorize.net - and I promise you they can locate it! In addition Authorize.net provides you an extra layer of security because we (EstiMate) do not store your credit card information in our own database.

    Of course not! EstiMate 2.0 will continue to work just fine.

    Exactly. Our pricing plans start at $39 and go to $199 for monster shops. The real difference is in the number of users and the edition of the software you want to use. For those of you unfamiliar with EstiMate, there is also an hourly rate wizard where you build your hourly rate - and you can enter your subscription cost there and let your customers pay for it. :wink:

    Smaller shops generally have 120-200 billable hours per month. Dividing $69 (A single user install of absolutely everything) by 120 billable hours means that raising your hourly rate by $0.58 will cover the cost of the software.

    IMO this is a real bargain and not a high price at all, especially considering that it will pay for itself many times over anyway by making sure you don't miss anything in your quoting and putting many more billable hours back in your hands because it makes quoting so fast.

    Any software can go down. If you are referring to the subscription timing out, we always build in a buffer of 7-14 days to your license file so you're never stranded.

    You don't have to - like any software, your'e not obligated to upgrade. And yes, you can, but you will be migrating to EstiMate 2011 and paying a smaller amount monthly or annually instead of a big upgrade chunk.

    We can easily email you your license file. If you drag it out of your email and drop it on your desktop, the next time EstiMate starts it will vacuum it up from there.

    That's correct. Every 30 days or every year, depending on how you pay for your plan. And there is buffer built in at the end so you don't get stranded because your license timed out.

    This one came at me from left field! Probably because I can't imagine not feeling responsible to my users. Certain tech support cases have kept me up all night writing a patch to fix them. That's just my style. I do see your point though and will do everything I can to watch out for any "attitude creep" along these lines.

    Thank you, Gene - good guess. Here I am!
     
  20. Slamdunkpro

    Slamdunkpro Member

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    So in essence, if you stop your subscription you end up with nothing but a search-able history file.

    You left of the rest of my quote which was
    and I see that in the marketing for the new release. "Application / feature creep". I want my quote/job management software to do one thing - quote and job management. I don't need/want another contact information manager or financial analysis tool - I have those. I don't consider those enhancements to the core product - I consider them bloat.
    To me, enhancements to the core product are thing like:

    • The ability to fully customize my quote reports without having to do a lot of manual typing - right now I have to manually edit item descriptions every time I do a banner quote to include up-charge items like hem and grommets. You all made the decision that up-charged don't go in the description, but if I don't type it in, I get a phone call - "does this price include hem and grommets?"
    • The ability to generate a discounted quote and not show the retail and the discount - just the net price.
    • Be able to quote multiple scenarios in one quote - 10/20/30 24 x 36 posters with and without mounting / lamination and show the retail/discount/net for each line item without doing 7 separate quotes.
    • Seamless invoice transfer to quickbooks - Define a status such as "completed - billing" and have the invoice generator go through and pick those jobs up and export them to quickbooks without having to remember all the individual job numbers and 4 steps.
    • Freeform report generator so that I can (for example)define a report of all the productions jobs due tomorrow or this week or whatever and have my shop guy run it, print it and put it on my desk at the end of the day so I can tell at a glance what's going on. What materials are needed for jobs due tomorrow? This sort of thing.
    • A linear foot generator for the wide format plugin so when I generate a job it will put on the job sheet how many linear feet of material as defined on the material database I need for a job - same with laminates and substraits. - we've been asking for this since Version 1
    • Security levels. I'd like to be able to have office people do quotes without having them be able to access the profit margin calculations or the materials cost database.
    • The ability to combine different plug-in items for example be able to include H stand costs into Coroplast signage and only show the finish product price vs all the components as separate line items.
    • Be able to define an up charge as a fixed dollar amount, or a square ft charge as well as a percentage of cost or unit of time.
    • Be able to apply different discount rates to different products or only selectively discount items. For example when I do a wholesale quote say a retractable banner stand and print. The print might get discounted 30% but I don't have 30% margin on the stand itself - It needs a separate rate.
    • Fix the 2 sided print / mount calculator (another thing users have been asking for since V1) so that you can show the correct number of finished pieces on the quote
    • If I'm paying a monthly service fee that includes tech support than I expect real tech support, not a user forum, or email us and we'll get back to you. If there is a bug, I want a speedy resolution.
    These are just off the top of my head, but I'd much rather see these items added / fixed to make the core produce work better / correctly than a bunch of extraneous bells and whistles.

    Mark I've been with you guys from the beginning and I'm not trying to beat you up here, but I see a solid tight core produce drifting off it's path.
     
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