Software Licensing Best Practices

There are a few basic guidelines that should be followed when integrating licensing into you software application. Adherence to these guidelines, while not strictly mandatory, will be greatly appreciated by your end-users who will see more consistent implementations from ISV to ISV.

The Product name you use to check out a license for a product should be as close to the name of the product you sell as possible. We consider it best practice to use the name of the product from your price list.

In practice, it’s often quite reasonable for ISVs to use multiple license names in an application – just keep it within reason. A good rule of thumb is to use a new license if you charge separately for that feature. Many ISVs have gone far beyond that – to the dissatisfaction of their customers.

Fewer checkouts per product are generally better from an end-user support and understanding standpoint. In the early days of license management, companies literally “went crazy” adding checkout calls to smaller and smaller pieces of their application, which resulted in several licenses required to run one product. Resist the temptation to do this. If your product is a schematic editor, you probably don’t need checkout calls to license the code that reads and writes the data files. You might, but probably not.

Installation of Your Product and Finding the Licenses

When you integrate licensing into your product, you need to think about how you will deliver the licenses for it to operate. A large percentage of support calls occur during the installation of the software application. One way to decrease the support burden is to make the installation of the license file as seamless as possible.

The internet offers many benefits as a license delivery vehicle. For less complex applications delivering the license via an automated Internet Activation option can provide a much easier installation experience for the end-user.

For more complex applications manually delivering the license may be the best option. Delivery of the license file via email or downloading it from a web support location may be more appropriate. Make sure that it is clear where it should be saved.

It is also critical that the application be able to locate the license file upon runtime. When Integrating RLM into your product, for example, there are a few ways that your application and license server can locate the licenses they need to operate. We provide a RLM Getting Started Guide that outlines the best way to define the parameters for defining the license file location. If you follow this advice, you will have a better end-user experience.

Best Practices for License Roaming

License managers provide several license models that can be very useful. It is important to make sure that these are used in the most appropriate manner to avoid unnecessary support issues or potential lost revenue.

One of these convenient options is License Roaming. Increasingly, users want to take their work “on the road.” RLM’s built-in license roaming capability allows users to check out a license from a server, physically disconnect from the server and continue to use the license for a specified number of days, after which the license is automatically returned to the server. Again, no extra work is required beyond enabling roaming in the license file. As an ISV, you control whether licenses are able to roam, and how long they can be checked-out in the disconnected state.

RLM license roaming was designed to allow ‘disconnected’ use for short durations up to a few weeks.

Best Practices for Product Evaluations/Demos

One very important value with software licensing is to provide a way to promote and market your application to prospective buyers. A valuable step in this process is to be able to provide demo or evaluation licenses to their customers. Here is a brief summary of best practices for this scenario that can help increase sales.

  • Provide “sample data” or sample “use cases” – make it easy for you prospect to understand your product.
  • Expose all functionality to the user – even if you limit scope of use, show the user what could be possible.
  • Allow a liberal eval period extension policy – requests to extend the eval period often come from your most serious prospective customers.
  • Show “number of eval days remaining” on the start-up screen – creates user urgency and an expiration date creates timetable for sales follow up.
  • Always remind the user how to buy, even after the eval has ended, by providing a link to information on how to buy
  • Do not require the software to be re-downloaded or reinstalled when upgrading to a paid license – this is one key value of a license manager.

One of the primary goals of software licensing is to increase revenue opportunities. In order to maximize the efficiency of software licensing, it is critical to spend time in planning and design. Various license models can be utilized to increase revenue opportunities and varying degrees of security can be incorporated. It is also important when implementing software licensing, that the end user’s interaction be considered.

A software License manager like RLM is an indispensable tool that can help you to design and enforce pricing models that are right for today’s customers, while giving you the flexibility to quickly adapt to new opportunities as they emerge.

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