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Don't Be a Software Vendor Victim, You Have Choices

Friday, August 7, 2009
Don't Be a Software Vendor Victim, You Have Choices
I was on a call with a client today who is renegotiating a contract with a vendor.  I am not going to name names because it does not make any difference.  It made me angry because the client was acting like a victim.  "What if the vendor comes to audit our software usage and finds we are out compliance.  It might cost us a lot of money".  The client was bending over backwards to try to make sure that they were in compliance.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Most customers do make their best effort to be compliant.  The challenge is that this particular vendor has so much ambiguity in the language of their contracts and policies that the client cannot really tell if they are in compliance.
Here are two examples of ambiguity:
  • The vendor offers a limited use and a full use version of a product.  There is no clear criteria about the limits of use for the limited use version.  Complicating matters, the customer purchased the product before the vendor started to delineate between a limited use and full use version.  So, they also might have used it in ways that go beyond the limited use prior to their being a full use solution.  They are not sure.  I was not sure in some cases. 
At a minimum, when vendors introduce these distinctions, anyone who had bought the product prior to the policy or offering change should be grandfathered.  Period.  Trying to convince the customer that they should pay additionally to get the full use version is just plain wrong (unless they intend to use it going forward in ways that would require the full use version). 

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