At any time after the computer resources are chosen and indicated in the approved configuration plan, the software and hardware may be acquired, the site prepared, and the computer system installed.
Contract negotiation and site preparation are important parts of the computer acquisition process. Technical, legal, and financial expertise must be combined to negotiate and execute the contracts. Business process owners should review contracts to ensure that important user requirements, such as system availability and response times, are reflected. Detailed specifications protect both buyer and vendor. Technology Excerpt 7.3 provides some contract preparation guidelines.
The site to receive the computer equipment must be prepared carefully. Sufficient electrical power and power protection, air conditioning, and security, as well as the computer room’s physical structure and access to that room, must be planned for and provided. If contracts are well written and the site well prepared, installation of the computer hardware, software, and related equipment should be relatively straightforward. Contingency plans to allow for delays in site preparation or equipment delivery should be considered.
Technology Excerpt 7.3
Guidelines for Preparing Contracts for Computing Resources
The following guidance regarding contracts for computer hardware, software, and computing services comes from experienced users of IT.
- Be cautious of a vendor contract that goes to great lengths to tell you what the vendor won’t do.
- Be clear on what is being provided by the vendor, including measurable service levels, such as availability.
- Obtain vendor warranties for intellectual property infringements, third-party indemnification, and nonconforming services. Determine the remedies for failure to meet contracted obligations.
- For a consulting engagement, include the names of the people who will work on the project and set a maximum turnover rate.
- Include a detailed project plan that lists what will be delivered, when it will be delivered, and how it will perform.
- Tie payments to completion of project phases and acceptance of deliverables, such as software, hardware, documentation, and training.
- Obtain the services of a procurement professional to ensure consistency across contracts and to provide an independent viewpoint in contract negotiations.
- If you want to make changes to source code, or have a third-party make changes, include this right in the contract.
Sources: Joe Auer, “Who Gets the Risk? And Who Ducks it?” Computerworld (June 26, 2000): 78; Kim S. Nash, “Users Say Consultants Play Role in IT Disasters,” Computerworld (November 6, 2000): 20; Joe Auer, “Work Out Details Later? No! Now!” Computerworld (November 13, 2000): 90; Jaikumar Vijayan, “Court OKs Third-Party Software Maintenance,” Computerworld(June 26, 2000): 4.