Wednesday, July 17, 2002

It pays to read the fine print. CNet has a good article on the need for buyers to understand and be willing to challenge language in software vendor contracts, which are often one-sided agreements favoring the vendor. Among the recommendations:
  1. Clarify definitions: e.g. what is a "named user?" Is it an individual, or a client machine? Is it an account on the system, or only active accounts? What is a "concurrent user?" Are casual web inquiries included, or only local users?

  2. Understand what's included in "basic support," especially when renewing contracts where vendors definition of "basic" may change.

  3. Determine the planned support window for the current version, especially if you plan customizations or additional development around it.

  4. Watch out of "entity based pricing" or "right of use" clauses that limit your ability to use the system at a sister division or subsidiary, or that do not allow you to transfer the license to a new corporate entity in the event of a merger or divestiture.

  5. Avoid "compliance or mandatory audit clauses" that give vendors the right to periodically audit your compliance and can lead to costly disputes and renegotiation.

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