7 ways to cut your software costs during the economic downturn

Global recession gives IT execs an opportunity to gain pricing edge on software vendors

7) Smaller vendors may be the most flexible -- and risky

During downturns, IT buyers often pare their vendor lists, starting with the smaller ones. But that is where the best bargains often can be had, said Fauscette, who noted that start-ups and emerging vendors may face a half-dozen similar competitors or have a need for cash to fuel their operations.

On the other hand, overeagerness on the part of a small vendor may be a warning sign. Fauscette said he'd be leery of doing business with a supplier that "is willing to cut his price to almost nothing," for fear that the vendor might not be around for the long haul.

Geisman also warned about driving such a hard bargain with a vendor that you contribute to its demise or sour a business relationship to your long-term detriment.

"If you take your vendors to the cleaners, they will get even someday, and with a vengeance," Geisman said. That could take the form of salespeople "not going to bat for you" on technical support issues, or vendors using tricky contractual language to raise maintenance and support prices, he added.

A wiser strategy, Geisman said, is to strike a deal that is "a fair thing for both sides ... and make it clear to your vendor that you are choosing not to hammer them because you realize that we are all in this together."

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