My employer licenses software to users. Many of you might have SQL Compare, SQL Prompt, or one of our other handy products. If you do, you might have noticed that we have a Redgate login for you that shows your licenses and lets you activate/deactivate them. This was surprisingly a big project across the last year to streamline and smooth our licensing process.
Early on, I realized this was an issue in one company I where I worked. This was during the 1990s and I started working at a small company with a fancy imaging system. We had purchased software to receive all our faxes as images and file them in a digital system. I’m sure we had one of the smallest (and cheapest) installations of this software, which one of our executives had managed to negotiate. However, the exec had left the company and a few months into my tenure, I needed support.
Finding our account, verifying our status, and re-enabling an old email account were a few of the cumbersome steps we completed to link the software to our organization. As soon as this was done, I realized this process had created a single point of failure, something I’ve tried to avoid as a technology professional. Immediately I set up a new email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and changed our account to this email. In fact, in all future purchases of software and hardware, I linked all support, warranty registrations, purchasing contacts, and more to this email. I also had this email forward to both myself and the CFO (he got an email rule set up to file this away).
Since that time, I’ve tried to use centralized contacts for my employers, ensuring that any vendor contact would outlive my tenure. I haven’t always been consistent, and certainly with SQLServerCentral, I purchased any number of things under my own email, assuming if I weren’t there, the company wouldn’t be. However, I did make sure that I put all contact info in a Password Safe that my business partners had copies of.
I wonder how many of you bother to worry about longevity when you contact a vendor or purchase software. There are certainly times when a personal email makes more sense (research, working to craft an ROI), but for formal contacts, and registrations, a more generic contact might make sense.
Actually, I’d like to see more vendors take this approach, building their CRM and sales systems to take a general contact and then a list of individuals that might be personal contacts. They could easily add new licenses to this account, tracking them in a central area, perhaps even ensuring that renewals would be a more efficient process.