There are a number of tips, tricks and strategies you can use to lower license fees across the lifetime of a piece of software—without harming support. From the procurement process to licensing to utilization, substantial cost reductions can be found, leaving more for other value-added activities. In general, access to tools and services is a function of how many licenses you purchase—and the price you negotiate for those licenses.
When you are in the procurement stage, remember the “Amdahl Coffee Mug Effect.” As legend goes, Amdahl sales representatives used to leave behind one of their branded coffee mugs. When visiting IBM salespeople saw the mug, they would immediately offer to drop their price by a million dollars. Which is all to say that one of the first ways you can lower license fees is to negotiate for discounts. For example, this Wikibon article on negotiating with Oracle reports discounts running as high as 70% off list price for deals more than $2 million and up to 50% for smaller deals.
Often, if you negotiate early in the quarter, sales reps feel less pressure to meet their numbers, have more time on their hands and are more willing to see your sale as a way to build their pipeline. It is also a good time to negotiate your maintenance fees along with your license fees. If a license sale hangs in the balance, vendors can be more willing to give on the cost of maintenance. Also, some vendors send individual salespeople into individual departments to negotiate for just the licenses that unit needs. To get the best deal, organize your internal teams (business, legal, applications, IT operations, compliance and procurement) so that you can present the vendor with the biggest number of seats to get the best volume discount. And have a good understanding of your projected future needs so that you can negotiate the best price for the optimum number of licenses.