When we develop a software solution for a client we generally provide technical support for an initial period of time – everything is under warranty and if there’s a problem we fix it. However, clients are now starting to ask us to provide this support beyond the warranty period. What’s more, we’re increasingly getting requests to provide support for systems that have been created by third parties. Although software support is not a Zircon core service, we’re happy to oblige – it shows that our clients trust us to keep their critical systems up and running, which in turn bolsters our reputation for reliability and dependability.
A recent example of this is an on-going project with Network Rail to support their National Standardisation of Route Lists (NSRL) application.
The National Standardisation of Route Lists (NSRL) is an application for the management and production of Signaller Interlocking Route Lists. The application is used by Signalling Engineers & Signalling Designers, standardising the production and presentation of Route Lists.
Route Lists are provided to ensure that Signallers have the necessary information to set power operated points to the required position for each signalled route when the normal method of route setting is not available.
Initially, Network Rail asked us to fix a few bugs on the system – it wasn’t a tool that we had created but they were confident that we were the right people to sort out a few difficulties they were having with it.
In projects of this nature we start by working with the client to familiarise ourselves with how the system works. They are obviously watching us carefully to see how quickly and efficiently we get to grips with the issues and then fix the problems. On previous projects for Network Rail we had built up close relationships with their people and reassured them that we were up to the job. So as well as fixing the bugs/issues they also asked us if we’d provide on-going support. A service level agreement was drawn up under which we undertake to fix anything that goes wrong within a set period of time.
So, although providing software support for third-party systems was never originally a core service offering, we’re now getting more and more call for this kind of work. We’re very happy for people to ask us for this service because it’s a huge endorsement both of our technical capabilities and the fact that we are easy to work with!