Using License Management as a Pricing Tool
Do you want to maximize revenue while pricing your software in ways that make sense to your customers? A software license manager, such as the Reprise License Manager (RLM), is an indispensable pricing tool that can help you to design and enforce pricing models that are right for your customers, while giving you the flexibility to quickly adapt to new sales opportunities.
A License Manager Gives you Flexibility and Control
When a license manager is properly integrated into your software, it is able to interpret and enforce virtually an unlimited number of licensing and pricing schemes. You implement your licensing polices primarily by:
- specifying parameters in your licenses, and
- deciding how to handle unsuccessful license requests (to deny or permit use).
These two levers allow you to customize your license policies by product, customer type, location, etc. You don’t need to maintain unique software builds for each case because licensing is mostly controlled by the license manager. This also means that you are poised to quickly revise your policies to react to new business opportunities that crop up – without having to re-release your software.
What should I license?
First, you have to decide what to license. Usually applications are licensed as a whole using a single license, but in some cases you may want to license additional extra cost features. This helps to keep the price of your basic product low, while collecting extra revenue from the customers who value the advanced functionality. You may want to take this concept a step further to create multi-product “bundles” that correspond to common user types, or even support a tiered pricing model with “Basic”, “Advanced” and “Pro” versions to add greater pricing depth.
Which types of licenses?
Determining the right licensing model requires an understanding of how your customers use your products. If your application is dedicated to a specialized niche purpose, you can use a named-user or node-locked license. On the other hand, if the product is meant to be widely shared or used collaboratively, you might want to use floating or concurrent licenses. If you support both types of licenses, then you can usually charge a price premium for the floating license, since it provides more value to your customer. Price premiums can range from as little as 10-20 percent to a factor of three or more, depending on the type of software and how it is used. In general, it’s best to offer multiple license types because it helps you to deepen your account penetration by reaching more user types.
What is a “user?”
Defining the term “user” may sound like a strange exercise, but its meaning may have a profound effect on the scope of your licenses. Getting it right means that your customers will use your software precisely as intended. Question: should the same user on the same machine consume only one license of your software regardless of the number of copies he uses concurrently? Also, should a floating license that is used for only a short duration be allowed to return to the license pool immediately, or should the license manager force a delay to encourage the sale of more licenses. As you can see, defining a “user” accurately is extremely important. When defined properly in both your software license agreements and within your technical implementation you avoid confusion with customers about the scope of your licenses.
Should licenses expire?
Obviously, if you settle on using a subscription licensing scheme, you’ll want your licenses to reflect the paid license period, but even if you sell perpetual licenses, you may want to limit the duration of the license (start and end dates) so that licenses require periodic refreshment in the field. This can come in handy when you make wholesale changes to your pricing/licensing model at some point in the future (including switching license management vendors) – knowing that at a certain date, all old licenses will eventually expire.
Should licenses match a specific product version?
Although version numbers in licenses can restrict which application version can run, most publishers prefer allowing older versions of software to consume newer licenses, but not the reverse. Some publishers creatively use license version numbers to manage support contract periods. For instance, a license that specifies a version of “2018.0101” would support any version of the application released before January 1, 2018. New licenses (with new “version dates”) are issued only to customers who renew their maintenance. Used in combination with a license expiration date, a license could permit permanent access to the latest version released during the user’s most recent paid maintenance period – without the license itself ever expiring.
“Post-use” licensing model
Another new source of revenue might be aimed at those customers who would rather pay for your software based on their actual measured usage. Again, a license manager is the perfect pricing tool for this because it can capture the details of the customer’s usage history allowing you to build accurate invoices weekly, monthly, or quarterly. You could use a “post-use” model on a customer by customer basis, maintaining it as a revenue-positive alternative to your traditional licensing models used for the majority of your customers. Perhaps you could sell a base level count of floating licenses to a customer, then use “post-use” billing to handle peak over-usage situations. This creates extra revenue for the publisher and allows the customer to continue working during unusually busy times.
We’ve only scratched the surface here, so if you would like to discuss how license management can address your particular requirements in more detail, please contact us.