BMC backs project deadline guarantee

Users of BMC Software's Patrol systems monitoring software have a new guarantee: Either the vendor meets project deadlines or customers get a 20% refund and the extra work is free.

The Houston-based company last week began offering an on-time guarantee for implementations of Patrol. A typical installation involves up to 300 servers installed over three to five months.

If BMC fails to meet a deadline, it will now refund 20% of its service fees and provide free services until it meets the deadline.

The guarantee doesn't represent a big risk, said BMC President Max Watson. Of the more than 250 rapid deployments of Patrol that BMC has done over the past 18 months, more than 90% have been on time, he said. "It's about giving the customer confidence," he explained.

Even though it's just a matter of putting what has been BMC's standard operating procedure into a contract, the guarantee is good news, said Patrick Dryden, an analyst at Giga Information Group in Dallas.

It's also the type of commitment Jeff Loesch, manager of Unix administration at Hewitt Associates says he expects from vendors.

One of two BMC Patrol implementations at Hewitt ran past a December 31, 1999, deadline, Loesch said. "BMC wound up completing the project in early March, and their services were free from January until it was finished," he said.

An on-time guarantee is appealing, and it's something Loesch said he would like to see from vendors on other projects as well. "There's almost no reason not to have it," he said. "If we deliver on our part, why shouldn't [vendors] deliver on theirs?"

"From a user perspective, I'd prefer all management implementation projects [to] be guaranteed," said Raymond Paquet, an analyst at Gartner Group.

A contractually guaranteed deadline shortens implementations, he said.

"Studies show that projects that take longer than six months are three times less likely to achieve a good return on investment," Paquet noted.

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