Posted by Ray Wang on March 24, 2009
Maintenance costs represent a major part of the software budget and
the largest growing source of revenue for software vendors. In fact,
an aggregation of the past four quarters of software vendor financial results
definitively demonstrates double digit declines in new license revenue,
even more exacerbated by the evils of currency flux from the strong
dollar for US based vendors. Not surprisingly, vendors are hard at work
vigorously protecting their 70 to 80% margin in maintenance revenues
just as clients and readers of this blog now zero in on this line item
as the major concession target during contract negotiations. Here are
five steps (i.e. A,B,C's to software maintenance) you need to do now*:
- Assemble all the relevant contract information. Aggregate
all your contract information and vendor interaction history so that
its centrally accessible. Determine the value of your maintenance
agreement. Examine how often you call for support, apply
patches, conduct upgrades, and require technical assistance. Then
calculate the total support and maintenance spend. Most customers will
find that for $1M a year, 5 support calls can be pretty pricey at $200k
a pop, especially when upgrades aren't in the picture for the next 24
months. The vendor better show up the next day with white gloves and
be there in person.
- Breakdown the total cost of shelfware. Simply put, shelfware
is the software licenses purchased, not deployed that is incurring
support and maintenance fees. That great deal 3 years ago you got on
1000 user licenses, when you only ended up using 800, now comes to bite
you in the butt. Calculate the maintenance fee you have for 200 user
licenses at $1000/user which is $200,000 X 20% annual support and
maintenance X 3 years. At $120,000, you had better make up the "big"
discount you got for buying 1000 user licenses by at least 12% this
year and 15% the next year.
- Craft your overall software adoption strategy. Consider the business drivers that impact software adoption. Assemble the domain experts, vendor management and sourcing professionals, legal experts, business owners, and IT team. Apply a long term apps/ recession proof apps strategy and determine when and how licenses will be used in the software ownership lifecycle. What processes will be supported? What roles will use the software? When will you upgrade? Can you consider an alternative?
- Determine all the alternatives. Depending on your adoption
strategy, multiple paths exist. If there are no intentions to upgrade
or enhance the software, self support and third party maintenance (3PM) options from vendors such as Rimini Street and Spinnaker
should be considered. In some cases, an upgrade should be completed
before switching over to 3PM or self support. If the system can be
replaced, begin vendor selection efforts so that you will have leverage
during the negotiation. If the system cannot be replaced, consider
swapping out unused licenses for credit towards newer or more desirable
modules. Reduce your CPI for new maintenance. Focus on reducing new
- Engage account representative at least one quarter before the contract expires. Put
preparation on your side and begin to let your sales rep know 3 to 6
months in advance that you are unhappy with the current agreement.
Based on steps 1 to 4, you now have the ammunition you need to
negotiate from a position of strength.
The bottom line - align your contract negotiations strategy with your product adoption strategy.
Successful negotiations will require these 5 steps. However, more
importantly, organizations should keep a current apps strategy and
product adoption strategy. Without these two key documents, lack of
visibility into the business case will lead to shortsighted
negotiations that fail to meet the true requirements of the business.
Sourcing, procurement, and vendor management professionals should
partner with domain experts who can provide third party, independent
and objective advice that will complement contract negotiations
strategy. Click here for more contract negotiation strategy tips.
Got more enterprise software contract negotiations questions? Set up a call with the inquiry team and ask for R "Ray" Wang.
What's your best practice in reducing maintenance costs? Post your
comments here or send me a private email to email@example.com.
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*Caveats are as follows: 1) This does not constitute legal advice.
Please consult your legal counsel for an official opinion and wording.
2) This does not consider any procurement or vendor management rules
that must be applied to your enterprise. Please work with your vendor
management teams for compliance. 3) Contract negotiation support
provides insight into overall trends and price points. Benchmarks are
not provided as each user scenario is unique.
Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.
Reposted from http://blog.softwareinsider.org