The Invisible SMA of Tuscaloosa

the ugly horror

It's that time of the year.  Spring is in the air.  The birds are singing.  The new, bright green grass is tender and every plant known to man is sprouting new leaves and flowers faster than I can pull tissues out of the tissue box.  

And the kicker for me, is that it's also time to renew my CABINET VISION Annual Software Maintenance Agreement or "SMA".  If I were writing a script for a movie, I'd write in the part to queue the ominous and dark organ dirge music.  Because, after all, no one really knows what's actually in the CABINET VISION Annual Software Maintenance Agreement.  It's all a weird and spooky mystery.  What exactly is the SMA that we all speak so loathsome about?  We all know its there...somewhere.  It breathes.... And it smells bad.... one has actually ever seen the dreaded SMA.   But it's out there, so we're told.  Oh,'s out there and you WILL feed it. And you will feed it in large denominations....every year.

In all seriousness, I probably have at least one conversation every single week of the year about Hexagon's support model or their "Software Maintenance Agreement" or how Hexagon support is so bad about returning phone calls with the slightest expectation of timeliness.  These conversations are from Cabinet Vision users all over the United States.   

This is the time of year when it hits home for me because my annual email from Hexagon is going to show up in my inbox any day now.  The email will remind me that I have to pay to play.  The other quirky thing about those emails is that the cost of the plan is more than last year.  And last year's was more than the previous year.  Obviously, I'm missing something.  Although I paid a flat small fortune for Cabinet Vision all those years ago, the cost of the SMA keeps going up every year.  I think the current cost of the SMA is somewhere around 25% of the original cost of the software right out of the box.

I know I'm about to get all kinds of emails and comments from this blog post.... I get it.   If you didn't know this about me already, I'll share a little secret about my résumé... only half of my 46 year ( and counting ) career has been in the cabinet business.  The other half of my career has been in the software development business.  I developed databased software for some very large industries including health care, banking, government, pharmaceuticals and more.  Without exception, all of those software products I helped to write required user support.  The notion of software support is not a new concept.  Software support is as old as software itself. 

Name any top software company....Google, Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft, Amazon etc and so on....they all have well defined and well documented software maintenance agreements and support plans.  Some or should I say ALL of them also have SLAs or Service Level Agreements.  SLAs define levels of service someone can expect when the opt into the various many calls per month, how long will it be before someone returns your call ....that sort of thing.  

So all this got me thinking.  And I said to myself, I don't think I've ever actually seen the CABINET VISION Annual Software Maintenance Agreement document...much less signed the darn thing. 

I searched high and low.  I dug through all the folders on my system relating to Cabinet Vision.  I looked in the Help system.  I went through my emails.  The only thing that I could find anywhere relating to the CABINET VISION Annual Software Maintenance Agreement  was the annual billing email I get from Hexagon reminding me that its time to drain my bank account again.  

With that email, I decided to send an email to the Customer Service Representative assigned to my account.  Through a couple of exchanges, he finally understood what I was asking for.  And I appreciate the honesty of his response to my request to send me a copy of the actual CABINET VISION Annual Software Maintenance Agreement document.  His response was " I have never seen a document like that. All I have ever seen is the SMA quote that we send customers and the link that I sent you."

This blog post isn't intended to be a "hit piece" or "stir the pot" kind of blog post.  I am behind the Cabinet Vision product 100%.  I think it is hands-down the best cabinet software available anywhere on the planet.  

Having said that, however, I don't see any indication that the Cabinet Vision division of Hexagon has any idea how to manage a customer support department for the product.  

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