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Chapter 34 - IT Contract Administration

34.2 Monitor contract compliance

34.2.6 Monitor supplier warranties

Supplier warranties may include both a limited warranty and general warranties. Since the limited warranty for a product (hardware or software), services or solution usually spans a given time period (30, 60, 90 days or even up to one year), the contract administrator will simply need to know when the warranty period ends and the maintenance or support period begins. This date should be included on any project schedule or contract administration schedule as a tickler. The contract pricing schedule may have included advance payment for the first year of maintenance or support, or the contract may indicate that the supplier needs to notify the agency within a set number of days prior to the end of the warranty period so the agency has sufficient time to issue a purchase order (PO). VITA contract templates include this statement: "Sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of the warranty period, ensure that supplier has notified the agency of such expiration in writing."

Either way, contract administration must ensure there is no lapse between limited warranty coverage and any required maintenance or support coverage and should coordinate necessary actions, as required, with the business owner/project manager. In rare cases (e.g., one-time purchase of a single hardware or COTS item), follow-on maintenance or support may not be required. For most other IT procurements, the agency or Commonwealth may be at risk not to have follow-on maintenance or support coverage and have included a requirement in the contract.

Contract administration should review the contract to determine what general warranties may need monitoring; for instance, "Supplier will notify agency if the Solution contains any Open Source code and identify the specific Open Source License that applies to any embedded code dependent on Open Source code, provided by supplier under this Contract." Depending on the criticality of the project, the contract administrator may request annual written acknowledgement from the supplier to verify that, "No notifications to any general warranties in Contract Number ___ have been required from (date) to (date). Supplier continues to be aware of the contractual general warranty requirements and will notify (name of agency) accordingly."

There may be occasions where the contract administrator will be required to facilitate and coordinate warranty escalation proceedings on behalf of the contract's business owner/project manager. The supplier's escalation process should be described in the contract. The administrator should completely and accurately document and track the paper and communication flow for the contract file.