There’s no such thing as a free lunch or software!

In the software industry, you see vendors offering free to use software, free to use add-ins, free to use reporting tools and so on. These offerings are strategically designed to nurture dependency according to David Singh, Infor Business Unit Director at Touchstone FMS.


Author: David Singh

Have you ever wondered where this phrase comes from? Here’s one explanation, in 1930’s America, free food and snacks were given to patrons of bars and drinking establishments many high in fat and very salty, so those eating the food would buy more drinks, spend more money, and keep coming back, sounds credible to me. 

Now apply that adage to the software industry, you see vendors offering free to use software, free to use add-ins, free to use reporting tools and so on, which sound great but lock you into them. Take a scenario where you sign up for some add in software for your ERP / FMS that is so intrinsically embedded and linked that once you start using it, the only organisation that can support you effectively for both applications is the author of the add in software, who also just happens to be a provider of the ERP. Gotcha! 

I was speaking to an organisation only last week who felt they had inadvertently locked themselves into a provider that they are now unhappy with. They adopted some procurement software which started off as free and gradually crept up in terms of annual subscription to a point where they feel they are being overcharged (they actually said “ripped off”) and the service is so poor they are looking for an alternative provider. The problem is they are now so reliant on that procurement application and because it’s not available through any other provider, no one else can help them. 

Now contrast that with a reseller that sells best of breed solutions (yes, those are still around and still going strong), we are one such organisation. We sell solutions made up of several software components, none bespoke to us and all available on the open market, however our USP is in the way we put the overall solution together, how we sell it and the after-care service, and it is the latter which will keep a customer loyal and wishing to renew, year after year. Longevity in a relationship is built on trust and great customer service. 

We feel strongly that customers should have a choice based on their experience of our service and not hooked and locked in based on a “freebie”. So, what does good after care look like? Here are some of the services all our customers benefits from: 

  • Educational webinars – Live and on demand, where customers can explore a wealth of information about the products, they have that make up their solution. 
  • One to one access with the customer success team to leverage more from the software we have supplied. Not everything needs to be chargeable, others see this as a short-term consultancy opportunity, we see it as a way of building a trusted long-term relationship. 
  • 24\7 online portal and knowledge base. In the age of FAQ’s and self-service we have a substantial database of useful information available. 
  • The best and most experienced Helpdesk and Service delivery team in the UK when it comes to Infor SunSystems and many of the add on applications. We are always on the lookout for new talent and take on high quality and experienced individuals many of whom come from our competitors. This month four new highly skilled and experienced consultants are joining the Touchstone support and service delivery team. 


In closing this piece, my strong advice is beware of the freebie, it will undoubtedly come with strings attached. These may not be apparent straight away, but you can bet your bottom dollar that a year or two down the line the Gotcha will manifest itself, very clearly and likely not in an advantageous way. 

Caveat emptor!


David Singh

David Singh is the Infor Business Unit Director at Touchstone FMS and Co-Chairman of the SunSystems Product Advisory Board. Having worked in the ERP/FMS software sector for the last 35+ years, David has a wealth of skills and experience in business systems and is also a qualified accountant. With several senior management and directorial positions under his belt including operations, project delivery, supports, sales, and marketing, he describes himself as a “bit of an all-rounder” and a huge fan of SunSystems.



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