Tuesday’s Tip: Do Not Bundle Your Support and Maintenance Contracts!

Published on July 7, 2009 by R "Ray" Wang

In the past 2 weeks, emails from 31 software insider readers highlight a growing and concerning trend with support and maintenance contracts.  Vendors concerns about support and maintenance contract retentions has led to new initiatives to consolidate contracts.  At first glance, this may appear to be proactive and beneficial to customers.  In fact, common rationale provided by the vendor sales reps seem benevolent:

  • Reduce the time and headaches of managing multiple contracts
  • Update existing contract provisions
  • Identify areas of non-compliance.

Keep in mind sales reps have been trained to push these new programs.

The bottom line – users should keep their guards up when vendor sales reps suggest bundling

While the above rationale make sense, bundling often create an all or nothing situation.  Basically, it eliminates your options to go with another vendor throughout the 5 phases of the software ownership life cycle (i.e. selection, implementation, utilization, maintenance, and retirement).  Convenience of one contract will be offset by 3 scenarios why you should never bundle your support and maintenance contracts:

  • Lump sum payment. Moving to one support and maintenance contract often means that the annual fees will be paid all at once.  If push comes to shove, customers can mitigate this by asking for partial payments or more regular payment plans.
  • Third party maintenance. Customers seeking to move off of their vendor delivered support and maintenance will find themselves unable to segment out specific products and solutions.  Individual contracts by products preserve the option to cancel as needed.  In very rare cases, customers have carved out the maintenance for significantly older releases
  • Replacement strategies. Leaving contracts separate allows for easy replacement of applications.  This strategy makes most sense when customers have become a vendor’s customers by acquisition.  Leaving contracts separate enables the option to switch solutions, move to a SaaS option, or create more leverage in deals with the vendor.

Be aware of these new efforts to suggest consolidation of contracts.  There are very few benefits.  Should this be suggested to you, do not hesitate to reach out for advice on strategies to mitigate risk!

Your POV.

In the Enterprise Software Licensee Bill of Rights V2, new rights address this issue.   But for now, have you experienced such vendor tactics?  Did you manage to segment out your contracts?  Do you need assistance with your apps strategy and contract negotiations strategy?  Please post here or send me a private email to rwang0 at gmail dot com.

Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.

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