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Sell Your Code and Make Money?

By February 7, 2010

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Ummmmm ... Maybe

An About Visual Basic reader, a doctor in a hospital, recently sent an email asking about selling a program she and her husband wrote to make her job easier. "The hospital I work at has very specific requirements for progress notes." She seems to be in a great position because she said, "We are being asked to sell it and haven't a clue as to how to determine its true worth. Obviously we want to make some type of profit from it, and at the same time, we are reluctant to name a price as we want to be taken seriously and don't want to be taken advantage of. There is little competition out there as this program is custom made."

I'd like to have that problem! Gee! How much should I demand for this code I never planned on selling in the first place?

This is a great example of why organizations hire programmers. One size almost never really "fits all". The flip side of that same reasoning is that the custom size you have created isn't really going to fit anyone else perfectly, either. This particular program might not be marketable in its current configuration.

If you already have a willing buyer, the most important consideration that I can think of is making sure that this isn't just a tarpit lightly covered with nice leafy green money waiting to trap you. I would worry more about an iron clad "Don't blame me if it doesn't work for you." clause in the sales contract. At a bare minimum, you should have a clear statement of what you will do to fix it. (And how much it will cost the buyer.) Most organizations have a lot of unique wrinkles in their software configuration.

"OH! We use FishNet as our networking software! Works great for us! Yah, they went out of business about twenty years ago but our FishNet just keeps plunking along!"

Be prepared to hear that it's not quite right because half of it disappears when they send it over FishNet. Custom demands are the Escherichia coli of the software biz.

Anybody else have any advice for Ms. Doc?

Comments
February 8, 2010 at 6:35 am
(1) Lennie says:

Hi, I would say that she should sell it to the potential buyer and ask a lot for it – its custom software that does a specific job very well, don’t b shy to make a lot of profit out of it… your also right to say that she must remember that they might want maintenance done on the application so put a contract or terms and conditions in place for that… Software that get used (really used installed on the PC) require maintenance being bug fixes, new functionality etc. Regards Lennie

June 21, 2012 at 8:39 pm
(2) Felipe says:

The software developer must also worry about unauthorized copying. Creating an activator of its software.

Just a reminder.

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