31 Replies Latest reply on Jun 9, 2012 2:37 PM by David Suelflow

    Value Added Re-sellers

    Todd Barnett

      I would like to know the value of the VAR's?

       

      I have worked with many VAR's in the past (GoEngineer, MCAD, Tridaq, and now Alignex), and each time I have to pay for my subscription service I keep asking "what am I paying for"?  What value am I getting for this money spent?

       

      I have had plenty of unpleasant experiences with each of the VAR's I have worked with, and I would like to know how other SW users utilize their VAR to enhance their SW experience.

       

      Please don't reply if you also have had problems with a VAR, I am only interested in positive experiences/feedback.

       

      Thanks,

       

      Todd

        • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
          Glenn Schroeder

          Our VAR is MLC Cad.  No complaints.  I've taken several classes from them and have been pleased with all of them.   I've only needed support a few times but they've always been prompt and very helpful.

          • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
            Jeff Holliday

            I have used Prism Engineering ever since SW1997+ version and have been very pleased.

             

            The most important benefit of the annual subscription is that you get access to the new version of SW every year and the service packs. Most of the rest of the subscription fee is very similar to carrying insurance with a very low (possibly zero) deductible. When you need advice and help, they should reliably attempt to get you up and running in a short period of time with little or no added cost.

             

            If your VAR does not provide adequate support, change to another. It is always a possibility.

            • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
              Michael McMillan

              Were are you located? Have had Limited but good expereince with MCad. We are currently with Progression Technoloies in Dallas and they are great. Ben thourgh a lot of training with them, they dont always know the awnser but they are willing to admit it when they dont know. they still try which goes a long way.

              • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                Scott McFadden

                Tod,

                The VAR I have dealt with is CAD Dimensions in upstate NY.  They are awesome and have excellent customer service.  They also do what are called lunch and learn webinars.

                Too bad that your experiences have not been positive.

                • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                  Chris Kamery

                  Todd,

                   

                  To answer your original question, the value is for tech support, access to service packs, next version of software, etc. Some VARs offer limited training for being on support such as webinars or video (most are for sales reasons).

                   

                  As for my opinion, it is a bit slanted because I worked for a very good VAR at one point. Other VARs I have dealt with are hit or miss as you say. Some are quick to respond, but with little information, others never respond, etc. Although there is training for those at the VAR, the level of support and how they treat their customers is up to them. Some areas do not have much competition and so if you want to use SW, you have to go through the one and only VAR around.

                   

                  Chris

                  • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                    Kelvin Lamport

                    My VAR is Javelin Technologies (Oakville, Ontario), and I have only good things to say about them.

                     

                    I had a couple of training sessions with them when first starting with SW. I have used them for tech support, ER's, bugs, a few times and they have been very quick to respond, helpful & pleasant. I have no problem recommending them to anyone.

                     

                    As Jeff mentioned above, part of the subscription cost is like an insurance. It also pays for the Service Packs & the yearly upgrade. Personally I believe all the SPs should be available for any years version whether a subscription is active or not, but that's a topic which has been heatedly discussed before.

                      • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                        Jim Barron

                        Same story here Kelvin, the Javelin crew are very good.

                         

                        They have helped me with some really tricky stuff and are quick to suggest the best method with dealing with multiple releases and the associated strategies.

                         

                        They have been involved with a huge variety of companies in Ontario that all have different products and often heavily customized ways of doing things.

                         

                        I've had problems that have stumped me and they have fixed them in ways like weird surfacing issues , Scan to 3D outputs and inputs and best practices for unusual car part tooling.

                         

                        I'm running SW Premium and couldn't do the stuff that I do without them.

                         

                        Jim Barron, C.E.T.

                         

                        www.updatedesign.ca

                      • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                        Daen Hendrickson

                        Our VAR is Digital Dimensions (Phoenix). We have had great support when needed since SW2005.

                         

                        I concur completely with Kelvin's and Jeff's comparison to insurance. Seems like a lot of cost for not much return until... something breaks at the most inopportune time.

                         

                        I also concur with Kelvin's take on the Service Packs' inclusion/exclusion with the initial version purchase.

                         

                        Technical support is incredible to pretty good. Depends on the individual that happens to answer your call. I think you'll find that scenario anyplace.

                         

                        We have participated in some training. Our particular experience has been that by the time we could break away from work and take the training, we were way beyond the level of the class. Not to say we didn't learn several great tidbits.

                         

                        Daen

                        • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                          John Burrill

                          I think the var arrangment works because it make a closed cycle of the support/update/improvement path.  And since Solidworks pricing has remained fixed for the last 10 years while Autodesk upgrade and software prices have increased significantly I think it makes financial sense was well. 

                          In an age where programming code for CAD applications is in the 10's of millions of lines and usages and installation environments  and configuratoins are all over the map, the best approach for a vendor is to have a funded continuous support/improvement program instead of a gratis department that's starved for budget money and sees itself as overhead instead of fullfillment.

                          Usually someone chimes in that they shouldn't have to pay to fix a problem in the software that shouldn't have been there in the first place.  To which my answer is: 'you don't think your car has design flaws that cost you money?  My mazda has never had an alternator last more than two years because it's located under the valve covers and it's underpowered for a 100Watt stereo? How many times do you think Mazda has gone into the design, reworked the engine layout and issued me a new car?  Would I pay two grand a year to do the diagnostics ,repairs and improve it and throw in the next years model?  If I could afford it, I would because that's a bargain.  As it stands, If I'm lucky the replacement part is under warranty.'

                          Another frequently levelled allegation is that if the vendor automatically gets subscription money, they don't have any incentive to make the software ready for release and just punt problems down the road to the next service pack.  I think the opposite is true.  Solidworks wants to spend their subscription dollars on product improvement because that gets new business in the door.  Making stable releases and adapting the software to changing operating environments is what keeps the subscription revenues coming in and keeps the existing user base supportive of the brand when asked about it-both of which are needed to fund the product definition teams.  It is in their interest to have as few regressions and bugs as possible.

                          On top of that I've benefited from VAR events and sponsorship of user group that provide valuable opportunities for learning and networking and my guys have helped me find jobs.  what do you get with microsoft for free?  A moderated discussion board?  Hotfixes based on automated crash reports; two service packs in a release cycle of three years (for Office products)?

                          Nah, I'll take the subscription model with it's reallistic understanding of what it takes to deliver continuous improvement.

                          M2C

                            • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                              Joe Kuzich

                              You would pay $2000 a year to help a company fix a crappy product that they claimed was great when they sold it to you?  Really?!  I'd buy another product.  Every company brags how great their products are, that's sales.  Then they are tasked to prove it when you buy the product.  If it doesn't hold up return it if you can but DO NOT buy from them anymore.  Companies know that people will just put up with stuff like that and buy into BS excuses.  There are ways to justify this service but that is not it.  

                                • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                  Michael McMillan

                                  I Guess if we were that disappointed in the producte we would not use it. Or they could just increase their price and give away their stuff so we might feel better. Eather way its a great product that more than pays for it self many times over at our company.

                                    • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                      Joe Kuzich

                                      I have used our VAR several times for tech support and they have come in and given a lunch & learn training session that was great.  Having it as an insurance as stated above is well worth it.  Those reasons are great reasons.

                                       

                                      My point is simply that the idea that we as consumers should pay additional year fee to help the manufacture make their product better is crazy.  For any product.  Stuff like service packs as said before should be part of the original deal as well.  Service packs are there to fix things that you were usually told worked already.  They are just living up to their claims and being responsible.  To then tell some that they need to pay for the fix for the thing they already bought, thats just wrong. 

                                        • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                          Jeff Holliday

                                          I totally agree that service packs should be free for the version that you originally purchase. The only exception to that would be if there is new functionailty added which gets into a little gray area and this is where I think we can be expected to pay to make the product better. Service packs should "fix" a problem without any cost to the user. New functionality is an improvement and should be paid for or else you choose not to install the improvements and continue as before.

                                           

                                          I never had these problems when I was hand-drafting - but there were many more than now (lead breaking, erasors needing to be replaced, stone chisels that needed sharpening)

                                            • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                              Joe Kuzich

                                              For sure, those chisels were a pain to keep sharp.  We went through so many interns back then.  I think of service packs being for fixes.  New content I always considered new releases or at least an expansion pack, which I agree that is something to be purchased.  

                                            • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                              Todd Barnett

                                              Yeah, I agree as well.  SP's should be free for the version that you paid for, regardless of a subscription service. 

                                               

                                              Paying for something "new and improved" makes sense.

                                               

                                              Paying for a bug to be fixed on something that you already paid for makes you feel like your being robbed.

                                            • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                              Todd Barnett

                                              Soldiworks is a great product, but the question here is the VAR's, and what is their use.  Can SW get away for the VAR model and still makes it's customers happy.  Can the VAR's convince SW to give SP's away for free, but charge for new software? 

                                               

                                              As a user, I would like the option to pay for an upgrade when I feel it provides value.  Most of the "What's New" features in a new release are cool, but not necessary for getting work done for the average user.

                                               

                                              I think the relationship between VAR's, SW, and the users can be improved.  It looks like there are plenty of users out there that are happy with their VAR's, so maybe there are VAR's that are doing something right, and some that aren't.  This is a problem that only SW can fix. Fixing this problem would more than likely fix the issues with VAR's and the users.

                                                • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                                  Glenn Schroeder

                                                  Todd Barnett wrote:

                                                   

                                                  Can SW get away for the VAR model and still makes it's customers happy.

                                                   

                                                  I'm thinking they couldn't.  It's nice to have someone local to contact when you have a problem or question.

                                                  • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                                    Alin Vargatu

                                                    Todd, you can provide feedback about your satisfaction with your VAR directly to SolidWorks. They have just announced a new customer survey, so most likely you will receive it via email. Make use of it!

                                                     

                                                    https://forum.solidworks.com/docs/DOC-2082

                                                    • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                                      Jeff Mowry

                                                      The utility of VARs varies according to need.  No need, no utility.  No utility, and now you've got a problem, since the "value added" per subscription has diminished, and can approach zero.

                                                       

                                                      I've heard some folks say, "Well, you should make use of all the handy services your VAR offers."  Such as?  Well, tech support, training, bug reporting, things like that, I guess.  But again, if no need exists, where's the utility?

                                                       

                                                      For new adopters, I can see utility be much more necessary, and hence the value of the subscription paid being much higher.  But for long-time users like myself, it's frankly more akin to extortion.  I'm forced to pay for services I don't need, and one size truly doesn't fit all.  Keep in mind, I've no axe to grind with any VARs--in fact, this has nothing to do with VARs at all.  What I have a problem with is the forced payment of services I don't need as if this is adding "value" to me in some way.  I can guarantee that in my case, the "value" I gain from my VAR is not pulling its own weight.  (Again, this has nothing to do with my VAR, but with the non-balanced system pushed on users by SolidWorks.)  If not for the software upgrades, I'd certainly not renew subscriptions.  When I call my VAR, it's about a bug or corrupted file or some other thing that generally is forwarded on to corporate SolidWorks.  It's not because I need help reading/interpreting the Help files.

                                                       

                                                      Why have this one-size-fits-all system, SolidWorks?  You alienate veteran users doing this.  Many custom-fit solutions have been offered over the years by users, and yet no changes have been adopted.  For instance, why not offer a-la-carte tech support services?  Users could pay a reduced "subscription" amount each year that grants them access to service packs and new versions, but a tech support call (if not the fault of software bugs/problems) would be paid on a per-solve basis by these customers to their VAR.  The VARs would make money based on the merit of their service--potentially earning more than under the current subscription model.

                                                       

                                                      Anyway, if you want to see more detailed discussion on this, it was played out on Matt's blog back in 2008 or 2009.  Rich discussion with plenty of good alternatives offered by users.  None have been adopted by SolidWorks.

                                                  • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                                    John Burrill

                                                    Well, if I thought the software was crappy, nothing would make me pay for subscriptions, but I don't think that was the question.

                                                • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                                  Chris Michalski

                                                  Our VAR is Fisher/Unitech I would highly recommend them.  They are quite proficient as far as tech support goes (which was always my 1st instinct when someone mentions a VAR).  I have also taken several courses from them and they do a good job of providing you the skills you need to take off running to get you started (but as Daen stated, they are by design introductory courses).  One of the tech support guys in particular is always quick to respond and I have talked to several people who will call and ask for him by name instead of using the online queue because he is that good (and so far they have not outlawed this practice).  Even though I am off maintenance my interaction with them has always been very good, they have not complained that "this problem really requires a contract for us to investigate".

                                                   

                                                  I understand your questioning of the annual contract value.  Our company decided to drop the contract in 2007 because of budget cuts.  Being an experienced SW designer I rarely called on tech support except when I found a true glitch in the software.  As a result, 2012 is now out and I work on 2007 on a daily basis with one 2009 Premium/Flow system. 

                                                   

                                                  If the bottom line decision were mine to make I would likely do a biennial software update and the in between years spend a simiar amount on hardware upgrades.  With only a minor penalty for skipping a year that leaves a sizeable budget for hardware upgrades.

                                                    • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                                      Todd Barnett

                                                      Great suggestion.  When I worked at a larger company (~20 seats) we used to do the same thing.  Now that I am a consultant, I have to uprgade at the mercy of my customers.  Luckily most of my customers have the same philosophy as you, and that sometimes upgrading hardware is more important than upgrading software.  But I do however have one customer that keeps upgrading as soon as a new version is available, and after asking them many times why they keep doing this, one of the engineers smiled and said something about the sales woman had big ( . )( . )'s.  I'm not sure I'm ever going to convince them to stop upgrading.

                                                       

                                                      Thanks for the response.

                                                       

                                                      Todd

                                                    • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                                      Jeff Wierengo

                                                      Our VAR is DASI (Michigan) and have had only good experiences with them. Sometimes the solution is there and it saves a couple of hours searching for the solution, other times they confirm that the issue is a bug and it get's assigned a number for Solidworks to fix, again saving the hours of looking for the solution. The solutions from Solidworks are not near as quick. One other benefit of the subscription service is that it allows you to access this forum and post questions.

                                                      • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                                        Anthony Hamilton

                                                        Todd,

                                                         

                                                        Supporting your local VAR brings down the price of the software if we did not pay for subscription them the cost of developing and delivering first class software would be much higher. To be honest i have good working relationship with both VARs in Australia and both of them have provided me with work when i was in need furthermore they also provided me with a list of designers when i need a designer.

                                                         

                                                        I say give the VARs your full support your not sure what it might lead too.

                                                         

                                                        Anthony

                                                        Hamilton By Design

                                                        • Re: Value Added Re-sellers
                                                          David Suelflow

                                                          Our VAR is Hawk Ridge Systems and we have had nothing but excellent service from them.  I can talk to a human every time I call and they follow up on every issue I have.  If they cannot solve the problem over the phone and go-to-meeting, they research the topic and always get back to me.  They have even helped me with a sister product (Abaqus) that they don’t even support.

                                                           

                                                          If I have to pay a subscription to get updates and tech support, I would much rather it goes to the VAR’s than SW corporate.  The responsiveness, quality and genuine concern is much better at the local level.  If you need a pothole filled, who do you think would get it done sooner/better, your town council or the feds?