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The 2008 election is finally behind us.  Whether or not your candidates won, I know that you join me in approaching Thanksgiving with gratitude that we live in a country where we can have differences of opinions, conduct orderly elections and enjoy smooth political transitions.  I am sure that you also share my hope that our politicians, and all citizens, are ready to pull together to solve the momentous issues that currently challenge our country.
 
More ways to save money are on the November TechTips agenda.  This month's RoadMap looks at negotiating software contracts during hard economic times, and the TechTip discusses a couple of quite affordable tech gadgets you might want to consider for holiday gift giving. 
 
If you have a question about another possible way to save money, please ask.  It is very likely that someone else will have the same question.  I will try to cover as many questions as possible in future newsletters.   
RoadMap: Negotiating Software Contracts
Roadmap

You think you are spending too much on your current software contract, or you need new software now.  You cannot wait for your current software contract to expire or for the economy to pick up. How can you get the best deal from a software vendor? What are some best practices for negotiating or renegotiating software contracts in the current economy? 
 
First, remember that even if you are currently bound by a contract that you really can't afford, you do have leverage with the vendor. The contract will end, eventually, and a smart vendor knows that if he is not willing to work with you when times are hard, you will be less likely to renew at the end of your current contract.  Since the vendor is also affected by the same economic conditions that you are experiencing, he wants to retain his current customers.  The reality is that it is easier and more profitable for him to keep you as his customer than it is for him to go out to find another customer to take your place. 
 
Keep your negotiations as businesslike as possible.  Negotiations do not have to be contentious.  If you explain your needs and current business realities to the vendor in a calm  professional manner, you will be more likely to win his cooperation in structuring a deal with more favorable terms. 
 
Be flexible during negotiations and be realistic about the results you expect.  A vendor is not going to be willing to work with you if there is not any benefit in the deal for him.  If you must have a reduction in the cost of your current contract, the vendor may agree to lower your monthly costs if you agree to a contract extension.  Always shoot for a Win-Win outcome.
 
If your current contract is set to expire in 6 months or less, gather formal bids from other vendors. Make sure that the bids address both the price and the service you can expect from each vendor.  Compare these bids with your current contract.  Then, make a clear, objective decision about whether you are really willing to switch to a new vendor.
 
If you decide that you want to retain your current vendor, use these bids from the other vendors as leverage in your negotiations. If you discover that other vendors are willing to do the same job for a lower price, use their bids to try to convince your current vendor to lower his price for the next contract term.  
 
When negotiating the new contract, try to negotiate some terms that will allow you to further lower the cost if you need to.  For example, you may be able to structure the contract to allow you to reduce or drop support while the contract is in effect should you need to. 

If you would like further information about this topic, please contact me.

SmartSite Technology serves as a virtual IT Department for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations.  We provide all of the information technology services that a business needs to compete in today's marketplace.
 
Our goal at SmartSite Technology is to help each of our clients to be a success!! We know that technology is not a core competency for many small business owners and non-profit professionals. We believe that every organization benefits when they automate their business processes. We work closely with all of our clients, even those who are uncomfortable with computers and technology, to help them introduce automated processes into their operations. 
 
Contact us today to discuss your technology needs.
Sincerely,
 
Dixie Groutt
SmartSite Technology 
November 2008
In This Issue
RoadMap: Negotiating Software Contracts
Your Tech Tutor Says...
 
Tech Gadgets for the Holidays
tutor pic number 1
I know that I am always looking for gift ideas for those on my holiday list.  Here are two ideas that might be perfect for someone on your list--one has just been released, and the other has a proven track record in my family.
 
Email on the Go -- the new simple, stylish Peek email gadget has recently been introduced. The Peek provides email and text message services only -- no phone and no web browsing keep the service affordable while allowing even people without a computer to have access to email.  
 
The device itself costs around $100.  The unlimited monthly data plan is $19.95 with NO contract required. Peek is  available for purchase on the web and at Target stores. 
 
Affordable MP3 - The folks at Creative Labs  have a great line of very affordable MP3 players.  After using the Zen Stone for a year, I can vouch for the sound quality and convenience of this mighty little player.  Check them out -- I don't think you will be disappointed!! 
 
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