A value-based code of conduct between software suppliers and the IT industry is urgently needed to stamp out stiffing, according to John Lister, European IT director at Tesco.
He told Computer Weekly that a code of practice to avoid stiffing - sharp software practices - could ensure that users only incur additional costs if they get added value from their original purchases.
"There should be a principle that you only pay for changes that give additional value," he said. "For example, if you move your software from one platform to another, but are making use of the same software functions you originally bought then you shouldn't have to pay more money. The key thing is that you are using the functions you paid for."
Lister has identified six common stiffing scenarios which could be worked into a code of conduct. These include changes in location, number of users, and changes to the platform and technology.
Other examples cited are changes in company name, acquisitions or mergers, and the effect of outsourcing or insourcing. He said, "The value based code of conduct should say that at a minimum these six should be spelt out in a contract."
According to Lister, who has been the victim of several stiffing attempts in the past 15 years, the underlying principle of the code of conduct is that a user will only be charged if he is getting additional value from a software product. He said, "The user will only incur a cost if he receives additional value over and above what was originally bought, and the functions subsequently delivered under their maintenance contract."