The Pitfalls of IT contracts

September 6th, 2016

How are you executing your organizations IT contracts today?

 

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archives.

IT contracts are difficult. 

Now that we have that out on the table let’s follow that up with a second statement:

IT Contracts are usually in the top 5 categories of spend of every company on the world.

When it comes to executing IT contracts the main problem boils down to having a service, software license or piece of hardware requiring a contract the details of which a legal team doesn’t always understand from a technical standpoint and which has legal elements an IT staff does not always push hard enough to improve.  Some companies have developed strong Legal IT staffs to handle this issue but most are letting the IT department review and approve contracts that meet the technical needs without attempting to improve the business or legal elements.   Today we will look at some of the elements which the legal and IT team should be working together on ensuring meet the standards needed by their company.

Technical Aspects  – Obviously the most important first step is to ensure that the service or product meets the technical requirements of the business.  This is accomplished by having a well-defined Statement of Work which clearly defines the roles of both parties and what will be delivered during the course of the contract.  For hardware and software this defines how much each party is responsible for the installation and configuration of the project and the support of the project moving forward.  This includes testing, specifications of what the solution needs to deliver, the timeline for delivery, and what is covered by warranty or maintenance and support agreement.

Legal Aspects – Once the technical requirements are met then the legal team needs ensure that all of the language surrounding the engagement and contract are also met and to the satisfaction of the company’s best interest.  One of the first sets of details must surround protection in case the relationship is not executed according to the agreed upon terms.  It is the job of the business to foster a productive and beneficial relationship with the vendors and the legal team’s responsibility to plan for the protection in case that does not occur.  Defining the governing laws and jurisdiction of a potential disagreement, precedence of documents attached to the agreement,   as well as details surrounding the termination of the agreement by either party are all things which must be examined so that the business can be protected from every angle.

Business Aspects – Several aspects affect the business portion, but most of them boil down to two areas; ownership details and pricing details.  Understanding the details of who owns the product is extremely important not only for various accounting reasons but also from a liability standpoint.  If anything happens to the product, who owns it and when will determine who takes on the cost to repair or replace that product.  Having this defined in advance will influence testing, evaluation, timelines and acceptance of the installation efforts.  Pricing is also very important and should be examined closely to ensure the company has the best terms in the way of payment schedule, rebates, discounts and other factors that will result in the best possible pricing and what has historically been ultra-high margin goods and services.

SafeSourcing routinely works with our customers’ IT departments on procurement projects to ensure many of these details are laid out and agreed upon before an award decision is even made.  For more information on how we can help your team with IT projects or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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