5 steps preparing for a Microsoft® Agreement or negotiations
Preparing to purchase Microsoft® Licensing or entering into negotiations for a multi-year agreement can be a daunting experience for most organizations. Microsoft® Licensing employs a multitude of technical terms, conditions and agreements and employs experienced Sales and Licensing staff. In order to meet Microsoft® on your terms I have put together a short list of recommended steps that will help you better prepare for negotiations and achieve great results.
1. Essential Reading
Microsoft® offers a wide range of Volume Licensing Agreements and Product Licensing terms and conditions for commercial businesses, schools and academic institutions, government organizations, independent software vendors and software service providers. Understanding the various licensing options Microsoft® offers is the most fundamental stage of preparing for your negotiation. Without this knowledge you will be at a disadvantage at the negotiation table.
I recommend reading two basic documents, the first is the Microsoft® Volume Licensing Reference Guide (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=cc499fd9-4830-4d57-93a4-6ed263bad02e&displaylang=en) and the second is the Microsoft® Product Use Rights (http://www.microsoftvolumelicensing.com/userights/pur.aspx )
One of the most basic mistakes is insufficient preparation. Organizations (actually individuals, because every negotiation is conducted by people) do not spend enough time gathering the required internal data, analyzing that data, looking at future plans, defining the desired outcome of the negotiations, and understanding the goals of the other side. The inevitable outcome of neglecting these issues is poor negotiation results.
3. Goal Setting
Setting realistic and achievable goals is essential to a successful negotiation. It will determine your strategy and tactics, enable you to determine when you have reached a successful outcome, and establish your “red lines” or reservation points (what is unacceptable). Failure to identify these limits can lead you to accept terms that are not in your organization’s best interests.
4. Understanding Microsoft®
Just as you need to determine your own goals, reservation points and acceptable alternatives, you need to try and identify the same for Microsoft®. This will provide understanding of the obstacles you are likely to face at the table.
Such information can be gleaned in unofficial discussions with your Microsoft® Account Manager. In addition, make a list of the decision makers on the Microsoft® side and understand who has real concession empowerment (there are rules set out at different levels of the organizational pyramid, determining when and by whom concessions can be made in the negotiation process).
Preparing and negotiating with Microsoft® is not a job for one individual, regardless of how capable he or she may be. It requires multiple professionals with financial, IT, procurement and legal expertise. Don’t forget that Microsoft® has 30 years of experience and hundreds of people working on Licensing Agreements. You need to meet them on your terms with the best human resources at your disposal.