Who Needs to be In on Software Licensing Change?

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licensing-jtpedersenThis morning I discovered an engaging article, “Making a Successful Software Licensing & Entitlement Management Project a Reality.

The crux of the article is a focus on two groups, Product Management and IT, that need to be involved when deciding to make changes to your company’s software licensing and entitlement systems.  (It was a mouthful, sorry ‘bout that)

Having spent a lot of time in licensing issues, ranging from contractual , to operational and support concerns, as well as helping drive technology selection, I felt some embellishment was called for.

Beyond Product Management and IT, there are two key groups that should be involved, which the article either omitted or ‘lumped in’ with ‘everyone else.’ They are Product Support and Operations.

From a Support perspective, it is important they are included well before deployment. Managing licenses, and their related support issues, can have a very strong impact on how your product’s received. Failing back end databases, licensing migrations, authorization paths, (enterprise) server authorizations, and the like are sophisticated concerns. If Support’s not involved, not trained, and not well-on board, you’re setting yourself up for CEO-level phone calls.

Deployment (licensing) technologies are ‘necessary evils.’ The challenge is to make sure your problems (need to protect yourself against IP theft), do not become customer problems.

Because of support issues, Support should be involved early on in the decision process. Their lessons learned can be invaluable and should not be ignored or overlooked.

As for key drivers in the process, I did find it interesting Operations was not considered a fore-ground player in the process. Quite often, Ops is involved because of cost of goods concerns, inventory management issues, and inflexibility meeting market demands.

Once the product (with its new licensing) goes to market, it is often Operations that carries the ball for making sure licensing processes are working 7/24.

Everyone will agree that constituent parties need to be onboard and work together. One addition I would make to the article, is that the key party being impacted should also be onboard. This is the person who will be directly impacted by revenue gains/losses/limitations due to licensing issues.

In many cases, this is the CEO his or herself. If s/he understands the impact, the odds are s/he’ll be a key supporter—driver even—of change. In other cases, that key person, the one owning the P&L, may well be the Product Manager.

(photo credit: Sachin Ghodke)