The Myth of the Poison Pill for on-premise software

September 7, 2022

In a previous iteration of our company, we supported Amicus Attorney, PCLaw, TimeMatters, and Worldox.  Those were all on-premise software solutions.  You would purchase a software license per user for something like $500 and own the license.  You would pay a nominal maintenance cost per user per year which would get you technical support and updates to the software. 

Products like NetDocuments, a cloud-based legal document management software, came out with a monthly subscription model.  You get charged a monthly cost that includes support and updates. You don’t need to own any hardware to run NetDocuments; they take care of that for you.   

As these on-premise software companies got sold off to other companies, the support quality diminished, and new features were few and far between.

These on-premise software companies decided to switch to the cloud-based pricing model to boost revenue. You now pay a yearly cost comparable to cloud-based software without any benefits.  You still have to purchase and maintain servers, be responsible for backups, and have limited remote access options.

The other day, I talked to an attorney who wanted to move to Soluno, cloud-based legal billing and accounting software from PCLaw, which her firm purchased ten years ago. The firm wanted to move in January 2023, but their support contract with PCLaw was coming up in October, and it would be billed for the entire year.

I advised her not to renew the PCLaw support contract. She was under the impression that she would not be able to access PCLaw once she didn’t pay. If you purchased a piece of on-premise software, that software company can’t stop your access because you don’t pay their expensive support contact. You own the software and the hardware.

In my previous career as an on-premise software consultant, I always recommended clients pay for support. Back then, the is was relatively inexpensive, and the quality was good. That is no longer the case.

If you plan to modernize your office, don’t let an on-premise support contract hold you hostage.