Why Producers Need a Proven Commercial License and Entitlement Management System to Support the Full Software Lifecycle Process

Last time we discussed Why Salesforce.com Isn't Suited for Complex License and Entitlement Management Processes. In this post we will share why in our experience, mature software producers need several product, entitlement, license, machine and software delivery lifecycle processes – well beyond what can be reasonably built in Salesforce.com. While not exhaustive, these processes include (note that these processes apply to producer users, end customers and channel partners, which adds additional complexity):

Product lifecycle workflows

  • Defining and managing product versions, with release and end-of-life (EOL) dates
  • Managing "feature-clipped" editions of products
  • Maintaining relationships between products (e.g. licensed product related to maintenance product)
  • Defining and maintaining license models (e.g. trial, perpetual, term license/subscription)


Entitlement lifecycle workflows

  • Supporting "try-before-you-buy" flows
  • Renewal of maintenance entitlements
  • Update notifications for software updates available for customers current on maintenance
  • Partial renewals (e.g. Acme renews maintenance for 400 units out of 1000)
  • Entitlement transfers within an enterprise (e.g. transferring 30 units from Acme San Jose to Acme Chicago)
  • Identifying upsell (e.g. "Base" to "Premium") and cross-sell opportunities


License lifecycle workflows

  • Fulfilling licenses from an entitlement. For example, Acme could fulfill 50 licenses initially and install them on a license server 1, 100 licenses on a different day on install them on license server 2 and so on, but can never exceed the 1000 units they bought
  • Fulfilling licenses for online, offline and occasionally connected users
  • Renewal of subscription licenses
  • Enforcing licensing rules for version upgrades (e.g. do not allow more than 1000 units of EZ-Calculator to be fulfilled across all version)
  • Auto-fulfill licenses for product versions that are available to customers on maintenance
  • License transfers from one machine to another
  • License returns


Machine lifecycle workflows

  • Registering machines that contain licensed apps or license servers
  • Displaying the application stack with associated licenses on a machine
  • Viewing the licenses available on a license server machine
  • Moving machines from one business unit to another
  • Returning defective machines back to the manufacturer and processing credit for associated licenses


Electronic software delivery workflows

  • Electronic software delivery based on entitlements (e.g. allow software downloads only for customers on maintenance)
  • Managing files associated with a downloadable product
  • Archiving EOL products and files
  • Automated export compliance checks
  • Reporting on software download activity


Entitlement management systems deliver on these processes. Ideally, they should co-exist with Salesforce.com; each system serving business processes they are good at and with appropriate data sharing between them. Salesforce.com is ideal for managing customers and sales opportunities, sales forecasting, support contracts and support entitlements. Entitlement management systems complement Salesforce.com by taking care of product, entitlement, license, machine and software delivery lifecycle workflows as defined above.

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