ROY D. SHAPIRO
PAUL E. MORRISON
Delwarca Software Remote Support Unit
Jack McKinnon stood up from his desk to stretch for a moment and take a break from writing his
analysis and proposal to his boss. In front of him and to his left and right he could easily see the
workstations and employees of Delwarca Software's Remote Support Unit, separated from each other
by low partitions and configured like his in the open office layout of Delwarca's corporate
headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts. It was a comfortable, busy, and orderly scene with a
murmur of voices and frequent ringing phones. However, McKinnon was deeply concerned that
customer service performance in his unit was ...view middle of the document...
The decision to integrate independent, disparate programs created some of the typical customer
problems that triggered the need for support services from Delwarca. These problems included:
unexpected interaction effects with non-Delwarca software (including software sourced from other
vendors as well as software written by the customer's IT staff); software-hardware interaction
problems or performance concerns; the usual crashing or freezing of software; processing failures;
attacks by malware; and installing and testing upgrades and patches.
HBS Professor Roy D. Shapiro and Boston University Professor Paul E. Morrison prepared this case solely as a basis for class discussion and not
as an endorsement, a source of primary data, or an illustration of effective or ineffective management. Although based on real events and
despite occasional references to actual companies, this case is fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons or entities is coincidental. The
authors thank David Maister, whose earlier work informed the development of this case.
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JANUARY 2, 2013
913-541 | Delwarca Software Remote Support Unit
Delwarca delivered its customer support through four separate units: (1) Software Development,
which wrote new code or modified existing code; (2) Field Support, whose employees went on-site as
needed for installation, training, upgrades, and trouble-shooting; (3) Critical Support, whose
employees responded very rapidly using Delwarca's highest level of employee expertise to help
customers with disasters such as unscheduled downtime, urgent malware and criminal issues, or
time-critical processing malfunctions; and (4) Remote Support, which provided less time-critical
support. Examples of less time-critical issues could be unexpectedly slow transaction processing
times, intermittent failures to supply accurate reports, difficulties in writing custom reports, advice
about "work-arounds" when integrating independent programs, interpreting Delwarca manuals,
preparing for taking systems offline, or tracking down the origin of intermittent error messages.
The Remote Support Unit
Historically, nearly all of Delwarca's customers had been US-based corporations with IT offices in
the United States. With increasing...