What a Software Maintenance Contract Needs to Cover

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Dear Bob ...

I'm involved as the project manager for the implementation of a finance system, and I'd be interested on your take on something contractual, even though I know you're not a lawyer. The software is chosen, and the project is being planned in detail, but contracts are still being negotiated. One sticking point, and where I'm interested in your view, is on the question of warranties.

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As standard for most software, this system is warranted for 90 days from go-live, but being a finance system, there are certain critical processes that won't have been run -- in particular, year end -- within that time frame.

Our negotiator argues that for as much money as we're paying, the software should be warranted for those processes too. The supplier argues that any issue like this would be covered under the maintenance agreement.

I reckon the practical impact of the difference is speed of response, possible direct costs to change something, and the supplier's undivided attention. I'm familiar with the "if I buy a car I expect it to work -- I don't pay upfront maintenance for that" argument and its counter of "external changes beyond its control," but I would be interested to hear your take on the issue.

Kind regards,

- Bamboozled

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