What is the Gartner IT Council on Maintenance?

What is the Gartner IT Council on Maintenance?

Purpose: To establish a list of declarations or “rights”that call for certain
specific agreements to be made between consumers and providers of
Mandate: To convene a group of notable industry users and vendors to act as
members of a council which proposes, reviews, ratifies, and amends each
declaration as necessary to meet the needs of participants
Governance: Will be at the discretion of the council with facilitation, research, and advice provided by Gartner. Decisions of the council are notsubject to Gartner approval.
Top IT Maintenance Consumer Rights

1.Predictable software updates
2.Stratify IT support levels
3.Reasonable and predictable maintenance fee changes
4.End support for non-production environments
5.Constant, predictable service levels
6.Reasonable, clearly defined legacy version support
7.Explicit statement and approval of maintenance line-item detail

1) Predictable software updates
The right to regular, appropriate, predictable updates to software products
The Issue:
1)Vendors don’t deliver patches and updates quickly enough in response to changes in laws and regulations.
2)Vendors’responsiveness varies widely by region
3)Update/patch support often deteriorates if a vendor merges with,or is acquired by, another vendor
1)Software vendors should offer all customers an update/patch process with clearly defined frequency and duration timelines
2)Vendors should use a defined process for delivering emergency updates
3)IT maintenance contracts should address customers’specific regional support needs —particularly in response to legal, regulatory and other compliance requirements

Lessons Learned
The members of the Gartner Global IT Council for IT Maintenance identified a set of practices, based on their industry experience, that they believed would help IT consumers and vendors meet these goals:􀀹Establish internally defined severity levels for product updatesand patches (for example, Critical, Work-around and Patch/Fix) and negotiate contracts with service-level agreements that align these service levels with vendors’.

Create internal product release schedules, based on the enterprise’s business requirements, and map these schedules to vendors’release schedules wherever possible.

2) Stratify IT support levels
The right to clearly defined response times and stratified IT support levels based on application criticality and other business factors
The Issue:
1)The most critical business processes should receive the highest level of support
2)Vendors should prioritize support according to the customer’s business continuity management and disaster recovery plans
3)Global companies need global maintenance support
1)Maintenance contracts should clearly state the response times ITvendors will delivery for specific applications and specific issues.
2)IT consumers should demand defined, time-bound escalation paths for specific maintenance issues.
3)IT vendors should offer maintenance support based on specific enterprise criteria, including the criticality of the application being supported

Lessons Learned
Consider negotiating contracts with SLAsthat provide both incentives (for example, additional fees) for vendors that meet or exceed agreed-upon response times and disincentives (for example, discounted pricing) for vendors that fail to do so.

Align SLAsand other service expectations with BCM and DR plans and with region-specific requirements.

3) Reasonable and Predictable Maintenance Fee Charges
The right to reasonable, predictable percentage ranges for yearly maintenance fee increases —or decreases —as well as long-term caps on increases in maintenance costs.
The Issue:
1)Vendors lack global focus (regional teams)
2)Maintenance fees continue after the life of a contract.
3)M&A activity confuses support agreements
4)Vendors often propose higher-than-anticipated cost increases
5)Vendors often tie long-term support cost increases to variable indexes.
1)Implement Fee-increase ceilings —including ceilings on increases following the end of initial contracts
2)Maintenance pricing should be based on broadly recognized, publicly disseminated consumer price indexes

Lessons Learned
Do not link percentage ranges for maintenance increases to vendors’price lists (which often have highly unrealistic base prices), but rather to fees that have already been paid.

When calculating acceptable maintenance fee adjustments, using consumer price indexes as a baseline and compare local currencies’performance against those indexes to make necessary adjustments.

Where appropriate, negotiate long-term maintenance contracts with fixed fees. This practice —which can be used with both “powerhouse”and smaller vendors —can benefit both customers through pricing stability and vendors through guaranteed revenue streams.

4) End Support for Non Production Environments
The right to end or change support at any time for products that are not in use
The Issue:
1)Licenses don’t change according to merger-and-acquisition activity and other business changes
2)Licenses aren’t transferable globally
3)Maintenance support offers too few choices

IT vendors should offer much greater flexibility in maintenance contracts, to reflect real-world usage levels.
Vendors should allow IT consumers to end support and/or transferlicenses from one business unit or region to another,
Vendors should offer the option to restart maintenance support as needed —within the terms of the original contract –when appropriate.

Lessons Learned
Do not write (or rewrite) maintenance contracts as enterprise-level agreements, instead tying maintenance fees to product licenses. This gives the customers greater ability to cancel or adjust maintenance contracts as products are acquired and retired. 

Negotiate maintenance expansion/contraction clauses to cover potential mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. 

Negotiate product license and maintenance agreements based on business functionality being enabled, rather than on product sets

5) Constant, predictable service levels
The right to reasonable, predictable levels of support throughout product and contract life cycles
The Issue:
1)Lack of transparency and visibility
2)Disagreement on what constitutes a reasonable level of support
3)Lack of communication, consistently throughout the contract period
1)IT consumers have a right to expect complete transparency regarding the levels of maintenance support they will receive from vendors.
2)IT vendors have a responsibility to continuously communicate —through e-mail alerts and other proactive mechanisms —any changes in real-world support levels.

Lessons Learned
Add language to maintenance agreements that limits a vendor’s right to amend or change an agreement at any time without the customer’s consent.

Add language that restricts a vendor’s ability to reduce service on existing or installed products when new products are introduced.Ensure accountability via measures such as contractually stipulated rebates on maintenance fees.

6) Constant, Predictable Service Levels
The right to reasonable, clearly defined maintenance and supportfor legacy systems
The Issue:
1)Determination of when a product is legacy
2)Definition of what is a legacy product –from the vendor or enterprise viewpoint.
3)Vendor reluctance to reveal roadmaps for fear of dropped maintenance
1)IT vendors’contracts should clearly specify how long a customer can expect support for a product, even after that product’s vendor-defined life cycle has ended.
2)IT vendors should offer a road map for any declining levels of support for legacy products, explicitly demarcating the point at which support may become more limited and, in at least some cases, providing for lower support costs or 3rdparty options.

Lessons Learned
Separate maintenance contracts from software license contracts, so that additional software licenses can be obtained per terms in the software license agreement, regardless of whether the maintenance agreement is still active.

Negotiate time-period clauses into maintenance contracts that may be invoked if the customer determines that it is no longer appropriate to apply upgrades and wishes to convert to “sustainment”support only. This would, in effect, separate “keep the lights on”support payment from the portion of maintenance that is paid to ensure upgrade rights.

7) Explicit Statement of Line-Item Details
The right to explicit statement and approval of support details at the line-item levelThe Issue:1)Lack of clarity in support agreements leads to confusion and conflict between IT consumers and vendors2)Contracts must have a degree of specificity that ensures that vendors deliver appropriate, agreed-upon levels of support.3)A detailed breakdown by line item allows a clear understanding by both customer and vendor of what support will actually cost.Resolutions:IT consumers should demand —and IT vendors should deliver —the right to specify and approve the terms of all support agreements at the line-item level, including terms, changes and cancellation conditions.

Lessons Learned
When writing requests for proposals (RFPs), make line-item-level support details a requirement for all shortlistedvendors. 

Transparency of user expectations is critical for line-item support, and it must be addressed early in the negotiation life-cycle.

Information provided by Gartner, with thanks to David Cappuccio

We would love to hear your views on this...