This is the first blog in a series on how to effectively manage your software licenses. In these three blogs we will try to eliminate some of the confusion and help you understand how proper license management ensures you get the most value from your software investment.
Software developers offer a variety of license plans, and these can be divided broadly into a couple categories based on how you pay for them. In the first option, the user buys the package outright and can use it indefinitely. The second option, popular in the era of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), lets the user buy a subscription that gives access to the package as long as the customer keeps paying.
Purchasing the software upfront may seem the most attractive choice because the user only has to deal with one payment. It's often the least expensive over the long term, especially if the user declines the optional Maintenance Agreement offered at additional cost in the license plan, but its upfront cost is much higher. While they vary in structure, maintenance fees usually include automatic bug fixes and upgrades as they are released. Some plans, but not all, even provide premium customer support. Many subscriptions, on the other hand, have these benefits already built into the price.
In the software purchase model, forgoing the additional expenditure on the Maintenance Agreement or letting it lapse after a year or two may seem financially appealing, but it's a false economy. Keeping your software license updated along with the maintenance fees are important because they:
Preserve the value of your software – Remember, the reason you bought the software was to assist you in doing your job faster and more efficiently. Software developers are constantly upgrading the features with your productivity in mind. As the software improves, it should continue to enable you to excel in your work. If you miss out on upgrades and bug fixes, your software won't improve and neither will the efficiency you derive from it.
Give you a voice in improvement – Software developers fix most bugs and create new features based on direct feedback from users like you. An up-to-date license gives you a communications path to the developers where you can provide insights on making the package meet your needs more effectively. This feedback loop is critical to software evolution.
Save you money – Declining the additional cost of maintenance in your license may save money upfront but will cost you more in the long run. It will be more expensive to buy an upgrade or entirely new package a few years down the road than keeping the original product updated.
The bottom line in choosing a software license is to pay for the one that keeps your package up to date so you get the most value from it.
In the next blog, we will discuss how you can save money through smart license management.