Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Systems for selling software?

My company sell software licenses. Unfortunately that that seems t be way harder than you should think. I think the reason is that there is physical good with a serial number. Moreover,
maintenance is frequently a part of license and it involves a time dimension.

Currently, we use an home gown system for software sales but would like to replace it with a new system that we do not have maintain ourselves. It turns out to be extremely difficult to find a system that is better than current system. I will now explain why.

Some facts are:
  • The customers cannot keep track of their licenses. It essential we do that.
  • A customer may have many departments/groups and sometimes it is important to keep track of which group owns which license.
  • The customers may use software resellers such as Insight (www.insight.com) i.e. they buy licenses and maintenance on behalf of the end customer. Those middlemen never track licenses and if you ask them about maintenance renewable they never answer back.
  • You have track payments so you can ask customers why they do not pay.
  • Computing VAT for software licenses is not so obvious.
  • Ideally you would like to work with multiple currencies.
  • Know what purchase order is.
  • [Generate custom reports about the sales.]
Moreover, we have started seeing our big customers employs systems such as Ariba to generate purchase orders. Therefore, it would nice to be able to integrate with such systems.

Usually we sell those licenses with maintenance if customer want free upgrades. It works like this. Let us assume the license cost P$ and the maintenance pct is 25%. That means if you buy a license the 1st of June with maintenance you have to pay

P + (0.25 *P)*180/365

Regarding maintenance then the software selling system should:
  • compute the maintenance fee automatically.
  • the maintenance period should be shown on invoice.
  • it should easy to relate the maintenance to the license.
  • the system should make very easy to renew maintenance. It does not have to be automatic. Semi automatic is enough.
There many systems that helps selling software for instance Salesforce but they are normally focused at the selling. They do not help much with the license tracking and the maintenance renewable which is the key items for us.

Some other vendors are:
  • http://www.licensetech.com
  • http://www.membrain.com
  • http://www.netsuite.com
  • http://www.softrax.com
but to the best of knowledge they either not interested in small vendors like us. Or they are bot very good at maintenance handling.

If you the reader knows a system that could then please inform me about it :-). Thanks in advance.

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