My First Software Prenup

contractsA software “prenup” is probably not the first thing you think of when beginning the search for a new or replacement ERP system, but you may want to add it to your list after you read this.

Recently, I was involved in closing discussions with a prospect. We were heavily engaged in two key areas: software deployment options and acquisition models.

The prospect had spent over 100 hours investigating multiple solutions and vendors. Void of IT infrastructure and ERP systems, he was prepared to make a huge investment in hardware and software to modernize his business and, therefore, become more competitive in today’s market.

Until we started our discussion, he was firmly convinced that he faced just two final issues: 1) “which solution from my short list best fits my business?” and 2) “if I make a mistake, how can I minimize my exposure?” (This second one was his biggest fear.)

To categorize the prospect as “old-school” would be both fair as well as kind.

He was uncomfortable with the idea of having company information beyond the security provided by his own equipment shielded by the bricks and mortar of his office. While he hadn’t totally eliminated vendors who only offered the hosted Subscription-as-a-Service (SaaS) deployment model, he had placed them very low on his list.

He also admitted that after 100 hours of discovery, all the systems seemed to meld together. Although he had compiled a short list of vendors and products, he believed that any choice carried a risk. Cynical and still top-of-mind, he held firm to the fact that it could be several months after purchase before a bad fit would be discovered.

The real challenge was selecting the combination of deployment and acquisition options that would provide the greatest flexibility while simultaneously minimizing risk and addressing his fear of making the wrong selection.

The prospect is now a client.

By working with the prospect, we at Spitfire Management addressed his primary concern to minimize risk, both from a fit and a financial perspective.  Because Spitfire Management offers several software deployment options as well as multiple acquisition models, we were able to architect a solution whereby both parties share in the risk and responsibility of a successful relationship. Should the future not work out as planned, we can both separate amicably with predefined conditions.

While it didn’t occur to either of us at the time, we had constructed a software prenup!

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