Monthly Archives: October 2008

Firesale Conference Call: Thursday, November 20 @ 5pm ET

If you haven’t already started getting calls from your vendors with better-than-average offers if you’ll just buy now, you’re bound to get them soon.  It’s called the End-of-Year Firesale… when quotas are important and sales numbers appear to make or break careers.  How are YOU going to respond when the calls start to come?

Join the Licensinghandbook Blog on Thursday, November 20 at 5pm ET, when we will be hosting a procurement-related conference call session on how to negotiate through the typical end-of-year deals commonly seen (and the expected “extras” as a result of the current economic state).  Stephen Guth from the VMO Blog will get the topic rolling, but the remainder of the time is for discussion amongst the participants.  We’re expecting a great session and one filled with dozens of hints, tips, tricks and tactics.

For this reason, participation is by-request-only for buyers via the form below and will only be guaranteed to the first 25 registrants.  The session will be free to attend, but you are responsible for your own long-distance phone charges (the call is to a number within the continental US). Please make sure your e-mail and contact data entered below are correct, as this is where the participant details will be sent!

Please fill out the form below to register: 

DMCA’s 10 Year Anniversary

Wired has a great re-cap of the history and impact of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, signed ten years ago today (and 3 years before the new millenium, just in case anyone noticed).

Here are a few more reactions:

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Amrit Williams Blog

Wired Blog Network

Public Knowledge

Freedom to Tinker


Free Culture News

And, of course, the obligatory profiteering.  Though, to be honest, if I could’ve thought to do it first, I probably would’ve.  🙂

Creative Financing

When I was a kid, I lived about a mile from K-Mart.  There was no such thing as Wal-Mart or Target.  But then again, Diners Club was still a viable charge card (different than credit, charge cards are “pay entire balance” cards, like AmEx) and you actually had to have a decent credit score to qualify for a line of credit.

K-Mart had to come up with realistic ways, then, to satisfy the needs of its customers with respects to offering them the ability to buy when they didn’t have the means at hand.  Their response was lay-away.  This wasn’t a unique offering, department stores had offered similar programs for years.  But it was effective none-the-less.

For a small administrative fee, anyone (regardless of your background or history) could put one or more items into storage at your K-Mart (items actually came out of inventory).  On any periodic basis, prior to a scheduled end-date, you could pay against the remaining balance.  When the balance reached $0, you received your items.  The risk to K-Mart was your failure to pay and the restocking of the items into inventory after such item was obsolete.  But this was a simpler time and items weren’t replaced as quickly by the manufacturer.  Adjust the timing so that you can’t keep it in lay-away forever and K-Mart was at least assured that if you didn’t complete the transaction, they could sell it to someone else.

I’d forgotten about lay-away until I saw a K-Mart commercial the other day where it was the focus of their advertising.  The obvious assumption is that this is a result of the current economic state.  People don’t have (or want to use) available credit for purchasing.

I wonder if the same is true for businesses – ones who are concerned not only about credit (though most thing are purchased under contract or PO requiring payment like a charge card – at the time the invoice comes in) but moreso about the availability of a vendor to deliver long-term on the promise of providing services, since the traditional software model is pay-first-then-pray-it-works.  So, does the opportunity exist for creative vendors to come up with ways to spread payments out over time without creating real problems for the vendor or the customer?  I think so… but I’m not sure what they would be.  Models used by services providers (pay as services are delivered) only work if you can measure it that way… but what about standard software vendors?  What choices are available for them?  Leasing?

Your thoughts in the comments!

Value of a Contracts Person

I’ve been asked, at every job I’ve been on, to justify my existence.  Some places just want to know what I do.  Others really care about the dollar value of the role to the company.  E-mail did it once.  Another was a full-blown business case.  But the end result is always the same – somehow, in some way, I have to convince someone who doesn’t know what I do that I matter.  So I figured that perhaps some of the lessons I learned could work for you, too.

Format:  Find what your organization wants, but typically, I suggest finding your organization’s business case document and using it.  Like being overdressed is better than being underdressed, so it is with the format.

Length:  If you don’t have a business case template to follow, you should be able to justify yourself in under 2 pages.

Purpose:  Don’t be super blunt.  Explain the reason you’re there:  you bridge a gap between lawyers and technologists/executives.  You have specialized skills.  You have experience and training.  You have the ability to protect the company.  You have the capacity to complete deals more efficiently.

Cost:  You won’t normally have access to other people’s salaries.  But you can make mild assumptions about counsel and executive salaries compared to yours.  More specifically, you show that the time that a specialist such as yourself requires to close a deal is much less than those who are not specialists.. and as a result, you can get more done for your annual salary.  This then allows counsel to work on more “important” things and prevents non-trained individuals from attempting to do the job (you have to come up with a smooth way of saying this within your company so as not to offend anyone).

Cost Savings/Avoidance:  If you’ve been in the game long enough, you’ll have an idea of how much you can save your firm on an annual basis.  But remember, this usually only works if you have access to all of the deals (not just those people want to hand you).  So be careful about promising a given level of savings, but sometimes, you’ll need to do so.

Stephen Guth Gives Away Contract Templates

My good friend, Stephen Guth, over at the Vendor Management Blog has decided to go ahead and release many of his “battle-tested” contracts away to you for free.

But, although conventional wisdom says that free advice is worth what you pay for it, in this case just because something is free doesn’t mean it’s without value.  In fact, in one move, he’s immediately given away what dozens of other folks have been charging a lot of money for in the past.  Oh… and we’re talking about Stephen Guth’s templates here… which means they’re gonna’ be really good.

Visit the VMO-Blog for the link (note: it’s up at the top and a little hard to see).  Get ’em while they’re hot – because even if YOU don’t want to use them, your opponents will… so you might as well learn what they say now and use my book to figure out how to counter them.  😉

EULAs: The “I’m Rubber, You’re Glue” Edition

Back in August, I wrote about Cracking the EULA’s shell.  In that instance, a California court was headed down the path of declaring EULAs as contracts of adhesion.  This was a pretty hard blow to the EULA’s drafter (the vendor).

Today is a new EULA case, with a twist.  Long story short, a court ruled against a vendor again.

Moral of the Story:  If you’re using/relying on EULAs to protect you and your product… and you believe that your funky drafting and interesting language is going to be read in a way that always works out in your favor… think again.

[Thanks to ContractsProf Blog for the story!]