When we released ABS version 3 in 2013, we began charging a little more for larger offices than we do for smaller ones. That’s because, on the average, the greater the number of users, the greater the amount of support and training we provide. Another assumption was that larger agencies are in a better position to pay a little more for the added service. Furthermore, most other agency management system vendors charge by the seat, or have a pricing structure that has larger agencies paying more than small ones. However, most don’t publish their pricing, so the charges may vary greatly for identically sized agencies. Our prices are posted on the internet so everyone knows exactly what the cost will be. That’s easy for us because we have the lowest prices in the industry for the value we deliver.
To keep things simple, we established a tiered pricing system. Tier one covered one to three users, tier two covered 4 to 6 users, and so on. Each of these tiers carries a moderate price increase as the user count goes up. We chose a tiered system rather than per-seat pricing that would cause cost to fluctuate with staff turnover. Perhaps the most important thing to consider is how inexpensive it is to move into the next higher tier. To move from a 3 user license to a 6 user license costs an additional $150 per year. That’s only $12.50 per month, or $4.17 per user per month. If you are a coffee drinker, you probably spend more on coffee — even if you brew your own. Again, the cost increases a little the bigger you are. The biggest jump is $310 per year, or $25.83 a month. That gets you to the tier that allows unlimited users. That’s almost a give-away.
When version 3 was released, the license tier chosen by every agency was based on an honor system. If an agent told us they had 3 employees, we believed them. In most cases that belief was justified. However, in some cases the honor system did not work. We choose to believe it was because after using our software the agency grew to the point where the next tier was appropriate. Agencies get busy, and in some of those cases the agent simply neglected to move up to the next tier. We recently learned that a number of agencies were paying for a three user license but actually had six or more simultaneous users. They should have been one or two tiers higher. The honor system turned out to be a poor way to sell software.
Beginning with release 3.5.15 the software tracks the user count because the honor system was simply not working in all cases. Now, the licensed user count is controlled. It is important that you understand how we define user count. First, user count is not determined by the number of employees. It is determined by the number of simultaneous users of the data. That is measured by how many connections the software makes to the database. In most cases, that is a benefit to the agency. For example, let’s say the agency uses a three user license but has four staff members — two full-time and two part-time. Let’s further assume that one part-time person works a morning shift, and the other works the afternoon shift. Because they don’t make simultaneous connections to the database, there should never be more than three connections even with four employees. The number of User IDs created in the ABS Administration program (under agency control) makes no difference. The licensed user count is completely determined by how many connections are made to the database by ABS Agency Builder. To avoid confusion, the connection counts given above include all workers, agent included if she uses ABS. A connection is a connection no matter who makes it, or how many are made by an individual user.
If you get the message that you have exceeded your user limit, check to see if someone has two copies of the program open, or if someone left ABS running on an idle workstation. Sometimes a person will open ABS on the server/host computer as a test, and then leave it running.
If you’ve grown your agency and need to hire another employee, moving to the next tier will only cost a little more. The increase in productivity will easily pay for the increase.