Archive for August, 2010

Ask to waive the audit clause

August 30th, 2010

While it won’t save you money when negotiating the initial contract, asking your software supplier to remove the audit clause from their contract could well save you a bunch of money down the line. An audit clause gives your software supplier the right to audit your usage of their software at any time. Time and again software suppliers have audited users and found their actual software use is above the contracted level and so more licenses (and money) is demanded. My blog last week reminded you to check usage rights to avoid non-compliance. So during contract negotiations, always ask that the supplier remove the audit clause. Some will and some won’t. But if they do then you might well save some money and some compliance embarrasment in subsequent years.



Clarify the fine print; define usage rights

August 23rd, 2010

Software license types and definitions vary from one vendor to another. Failing to clarify what the license types are and what the definitions mean in your software contract can cost you money! Before you sign on the dotted line, always ensure you have clarified and understood what it is you are buying and make sure that license types and definitions are clearly stated in the software contract.

Software suppliers are adept at auditing users and finding businesses where their software is being used in breach of the license types or definitions in their contract; the net result is usually an unexpected and unbudgeted invoice arriving on your finance directors desk asking for payment for the actual software usage. If you don’t want to get caught out, then make sure you know what you’re signing when a software supplier presents you with a license contract. Look particularly at the number of users allowed, the type of users (ie, named, concurrent, employee, cpu, affiliate, professional, lite, etc etc), the geography of use (ie, on one site, across multiple sites, in subsidiaries, outside the UK, etc), and also clarify the definition for each license type (ie, what does ‘concurrent’, ‘cpu’, ‘lite’ etc actually mean?). Also check to see what happens if you were to outsource your IT function; does your software contract allow free and easy transfer of use to an external party?

A little time spent up-front prior to signing a contract can save you a lot of wasted time and money later!

Microsoft and Google want to run your email and lower your costs

August 19th, 2010

It looks like email could well be the next battleground for Microsoft and Google to fight over market share.

As organisations evaluate e-mail strategies over the next five years, Microsoft and Google will compete for the bulk of the market, says analyst Forrester Research. This is due to cloud-based e-mail being the cheap entry point to a deeper and more profitable collaboration deal for vendors. Microsoft and Google will be happy to outbid each other to win your e-mail business because they know there’s more money to be made in conferencing, team sites, videoconferencing and social software down the line. Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and Google are rapidly approaching feature and price parity in their e-mail offerings.

Research from Forrester found that in 2009, 76% of US employees in small companies used Outlook for e-mail. However, Google has been building its direct sales organisation and partner channel aggressively over the past three years – claiming more than two million businesses use its Google Apps Enterprise Edition product.

So anyone facing the prospect of signing another 3 year Microsoft Select or Enterprise Agreement may want to consider their options more thoroughly The future is cloud and the question is only when do you go there, not why.

 

Software contracts; define the usage rights

August 9th, 2010

Last week a new client of ours was asking about software license usage rights. Specifically they wanted to know what was the difference between a concurrent user and a named user. The simple answer is that there’s a lot of difference, including the price per user. The definitions of usage terms vary between suppliers and failing to get usage terms clarified can cost you money when the supplier finds you are ’under licensed’ after only a year or two. If you’re buying software then clarifying and agreeing usage rights should be a part of your negotiation strategy.

Confirm the numbers and types of users you have. Then discuss different licensing options with your software supplier. Find out which license type best suits your business. It’s not just your employees that might need licensing; do you plan to use external consultants or your outsourcing supplier to help implement the solution, will you be allowing your agents or customers web access to do self-service activities, etc etc. And note; you can mix and match usage types which will bring your sofware costs (and pro-rate annual support) down. 

And some licensing is based on servers/CPU’s; so make sure you clarify what happens if you decided to upgrade or change server type during the life of the software.

And find out where you can use the software; UK may be fine for most of your business, but what about that subsidiary abroad?

Software suppliers have developed an array of ways to catch you out. So as the saying goes: caveat emptor -  buyer beware.

HSBC saves £1m by turning off computers at night

August 2nd, 2010

IT cost savings come in many forms and here’s one that caught my eye the other day.

HSBC has saved more than $1m in energy costs after rolling out technology that shuts down 300,000 PCs during evenings and weekends. The bank is implementing the shut-down system across its international network, eventually reaching all 8,000 offices in the 88 countries it operates in.

The technology, called NightWatchman from supplier 1E, saves data and closes applications before shutting down PCs. The bank is one of the biggest in the world and says it keeps costs down through “ruthless” standardisation of its IT across the company.

Matthew O’Neill, head of group communication systems and support, said, “A key part of our desktop strategy to minimise total cost of ownership is through ruthless standardisation of our environment. We deploy a single Windows image to all of our desktops worldwide and ensure that all additional solutions we provide are globally scalable. Within this environment, we are responsible for establishing all of the desktop settings, including our global shutdown policy, to ensure that this is adhered to across the organisation, maximising the energy savings.”

 

Well done to HSBC; saving the planet and the pennies at the same time!