What is a software warranty and how does it work?

What is a software warranty and how does it work?

When we make a purchase, we want to know what is the price of a product, what is its technical state, and what features it offers. However, our goal is also to be resourceful and have the foresight for potential future issues or malfunctions. That’s why we often ask for a warranty with the best possible conditions.

Not everyone knows that we can get it also for services we receive, like software development outsourcing. When it comes to fridges and washing machines, we usually know how it works. Something breaks? The hardware is repaired for free or replaced entirely. How does it work for software solutions though? That’s what we explain in this article.

What can you expect from a provider under the warranty for a software solution?

The process of creating a system like a website or an app is demanding and engaging. It’s worth remembering that the implementation is only the finish line of the development phase, which is one of the phases of the project’s lifecycle. Software solutions, like cars, often require regular maintenance.

When signing a contract with a software house, it’s worth paying attention to the parts dedicated to the contractor’s liability and service requirements (like software updates and code changes). Remember to ask about these policies beforehand. Discuss all your needs before the start of your collaboration with the IT partner.

The parties should agree upon the software maintenance costs and define the warranty period. Before we proceed, we should also mention the difference between a warranty and an SLA.

Warranty vs. SLA

A warranty is the contractor’s assurance that the produced software will function flawlessly for at least the specified period. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a separate document that defines the rules of cooperation after the software product is released. Such support is an additional service that can extend the basic warranty. For example, it can specify shorter response times or the number of hours that the contractor will spend on further development or out-of-warranty requests.

What should be included in a warranty for a software solution?

At first, it is worth determining exactly what obligations the warranty imposes on the contractor.

The industry best practices usually suggest at least these three records:

  • What software updates can be done during the warranty period,
  • How warranty repairs will be handled in the event of technical failure,
  • Free-of-charge repairs that can be performed during the warranty period.

Duration of the software warranty

The market standard in Poland for a software warranty period is 12 months. Some companies may offer extended periods. However, that usually requires an additional fee and other individual arrangements. If you have an advanced, complex software system that might require a longer warranty, you can always negotiate its conditions with your IT partner.

Of course, depending on where you outsource your software needs, the warranty periods can vary. Remember to compare your potential partners’ arrangements before the cooperation starts.

Contractor’s reaction time

According to Polish law, the contractor’s maximum response time can be relatively long – up to 14 days. That regulation applies if there’s no SLA in place. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the warranty document can’t offer shorter times that apply to specific cases. Usually, the software house specifies which emergencies will be taken care of faster, and which ones will have to wait.

For example, a “critical error” is classified as a malfunction that blocks the main functionalities of the system. They usually have a shorter response time, while “minor errors” are fixed within a longer period.

Client’s obligations

The warranty is not one-sided and it also concerns the client. Typically, software houses limit their warranty with certain frames of collaboration. It can be lost if their code is modified by the client or another company. This is caused by the loss of control over the code and the inability to take full responsibility for the third party’s work. 

That policy usually implies that the client is bounded to the contractor for at least the duration of the warranty. Otherwise, they would lose it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your IT partner knows the solution best because they made it. They are capable of properly taking care of it, too.

Warranty for out-of-the-box vs. custom solutions

The warranty clauses might vary depending on the type of software you ordered. If it’s a premade solution, it is possible that the company that provides the product will offer continued support in the form of a hotline. Many problems can be solved over the phone within a relatively short time. Nevertheless, the customer service reps are not programmers. They won’t be able to repair a technical error. They will only suggest what you can do based on generic scripts. Serious issues usually have to wait in line to be handled.

Dedicated solutions are individually written systems. Their level of advancement can vary depending on the number of features, dependencies, integrations, and other factors. They are less predictable than software products built of ready-made blocks. In case of any difficulties, they require the involvement of an entire development team. Fixing an error is an operation that requires a personalized approach, out-of-the-box thinking, and a testing period. It can extend the repair time, but at the same time, it’s more professional and effective.

We always recommend getting a custom software product because the advantages definitely win over the drawbacks. It might be more expensive and require more time and effort. In the end, though, you get a high-quality, robust solution that meets all your business goals.

Warranty – a must when collaborating with a software house

If you wonder how to pick a software house that will deliver exactly what you need, one of the criteria to consider is what type of warranty they offer. Look for the best possible conditions and openness to negotiating. Be honest about your requirements from day one. A good IT company will want to meet your expectations and propose something that will keep each side satisfied.

At G-Group.dev, we provide a warranty to all of our clients. When you outsource a developer or a team, you can be sure they will do their best to create something amazing, and also help you when there’s a problem. We focus on genuine, long-term relationships with our clients. We want to be there when they need our support. It’s the best possible partnership you could invest in. Reach out and find out what exactly you get by collaborating with us.

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