When you forget about a vendor contract renewal date it is a missed opportunity to renegotiate the terms. It is best to track all your contract and software license renewals yourself.
One way to do this is to use a shared calendar. This works best when you don’t have many contracts to track because setting up the notifications is cumbersome, getting an overview of upcoming renewals can be difficult, it will need a lot manual setup if it does not support CSV imports, and it may not support all variations of notifications you would like.
Another alternative that may work is to use hosted project management software. Like the calendar solution, the features of your specific project management tool may or may not be sufficient to deal with the renewal reminders satisfactorily.
A useful renewal tracking solution would have the following properties:
- Each contract expiration must be separately trackable to make management easier.
- It must be easy to get an overview of all the contracts and their expiry dates.
- The tool must send email notifications that give you a useful notice period to allow for preparations and renegotiations when necessary.
- It must be possible to send periodic email reminders after the first notification.
- All the stakeholders in a particular contract must be able to receive these notifications.
- Different contracts may have different sets of stakeholders.
The following setup can be used to configure a project management tool for tracking expiration dates.
- Create an ongoing project, that is, a project with no end date. The project should be dedicated to license and contract renewals.
- Create a single task per tracked contract.
- Set the task due date to the actual expiration date.
- Set the first reminder to the desired notice period. This period may be different between contracts and between stakeholders. The notification should be sent to all stakeholders
- Set periodic reminders, e.g. biweekly. These should also go to all stakeholders.
If your project management software has more advanced user and group management it can be easier to manage stakeholder notifications by creating the proper groups.
Project management vs. Shared Calendar
While calendars may be an acceptable tool for renewal tracking if you have very few contracts to manage, project management software will be better able to deal with more tracked contracts for a few reasons:
- User and group management removes a lot of overhead for configuring notifications.
- Most project management tools support CSV import, which will make task setup much faster because you prepare the tasks in a spreadsheet and upload them all in one step.
- There will be multiple ways to visualise the “project” to get a better overview of upcoming renewals.
Project management tools are not designed as a solution for tracking repetitive infrequent events that require multiple notifications per event, each with different stakeholders and notification requirements. It may take you further than a shared calendar but when it becomes limiting, or start to take up too much time, consider looking at a dedicated service like License Prompt, which is designed for tracking software and vendor contracts.