Many organisations defer their software license renewal date tracking to a single person or group, often the IT Manager. This can quickly become a mammoth task as the number of subscriptions and licenses balloon, even in small companies, easily taking up most of your working day.
… software license renewal date tracking … can quickly become a mammoth task
Ensuring the monthly subscriptions remain active is relatively easy. If it is paid by credit card and the necessary funds are deposited on schedule, there is not much to worry about.
Tracking long term commitments is a different matter. Even those that are paid by credit card as a subscription can cause trouble because they require additional funds in a single month which is different from the normal funding pattern. It is very easy to be caught unprepared.
Long term commitments that are contracted and require negotiation at each renewal are even more difficult. Often these negotiations need to be started long before contract expiry to ensure an acceptable deal has been reached in time for the renewal date, failing which normal business may be interrupted. So not only do you need to know when to renew, you also need to track when to start the next period’s negotiations.
Cancellations is another item which can have repercussions. Monthly subscriptions usually require one month cancellation notice. The worst that could happen is a single month’s wasted payment. For negotiated contracts this is often much more complicated. Many providers require several months of notice of cancellation. This makes life difficult because the decision to cancel needs to be finalised while there still is significant time left on the license. Missing the cancellation window can result in significant cancellation penalties.
The negotiation process can be complicated even more by internal stakeholders who rely on the software but who normally don’t put the contract negotiations high on their priority list, until the tool stops working, by which time it is too late to enter negotiations on equal terms. Vendors will normally inform you in advance about contracts that need to be renewed because it is in their best interest, however, their advance warning may not be enough to cater for your organisation’s decision making timelines.
… renegotiate the contract renewal dates … to make them all coincide.
One option to alleviate the pressure on your work days and free up some time is to renegotiate the contract renewal dates with your suppliers to make them all coincide. Decide on a suitable renewal schedule that will fit into your company’s financial calendar, for example the first two weeks of every quarter, and work with the vendors to move their renewal into one of those periods. This project should be done in participation with your finance department because there will be once-off expenses to cater for the additional/reduced months on the current contract, and in the future there will be large cash outflows during the renewal periods which need to be budgeted for.
Most vendors should be amenable to an arrangement that aligns your contract renewal dates. This will make your life much easier because you can plan your calendar around the renewal windows and free up the other periods for other work. Inevitably some vendors will not agree to change their contact periods. They can be evaluated case by case to decide whether they should be replaced or just handled as before.