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Autodesk officially announced earlier this week a new token-based method of combining Autodesk named account users and daily or occasional use Autodesk software licensing. The new licensing product is called Autodesk Flex. Flex will be available after September 24, 2021.

An Autodesk Flex token is not your Daddy’s Bitcoin.
The more fascinating question might be…
Will Autodesk Flex become more like Gumby or Stretch Armstrong?

Autodesk Flex

Autodesk Flex is not an intended replacement for Autodesk Subscription for frequent or regular, daily users of Autodesk software.

Autodesk Flex is intended for on-demand occasional usage.
That demand may vary based on the need of assigned named users and/or the specific software functionality required.


What is Flex?

Autodesk Flex addresses some significant customer requested license flexibility. Flex licensing may be useful in some project-based consulting scenarios where those project costs may be itemized and passed through.

Autodesk Flex works on a token-based purchase model.
The customer purchases X number of Flex tokens in advance.
The Flex token price varies based on market served and number of Flex tokens purchased.
Flex tokens are good for one-year from date of purchase.
The customer then assigns Autodesk named users access to the specific occasional use product(s).

Starting the specified software in any 24-hour period costs X number of Flex tokens per day per user. The cost in Flex tokens is based on the software product(s) employed. Civil 3D and Revit cost more tokens per day per user than AutoCAD.

According to Autodesk not all products and features will be available with Flex.
Additional details regarding Flex will be available after September 24, 2021.

See the Autodesk Flex Software availability and Flex Token cost per day sheet PDF.

There are no Autodesk Cloud based product services included in Flex pricing for example although the Desktop Connector and Autodesk Drive are included for free.

Note there are several significant Autodesk Civil products currently included with an Civil 3D Flex token license for free.
Project Explorer for Civil 3D and Grading Optimization come to mind.

Flex in Civil 3D Land

Left unsaid by the official Autodesk announcement and product pages is that Flex licenses will probably only be available to recent, if not only, current and future releases of Autodesk software – aka 2022+ release products.

The Flex licensing certainly answers Autodesk’s stated desire to more directly connect software license usage to individuals for a host of business reasons.

Flex does appear to be a handy way to test and then employ many Autodesk softwares in a user-managed way. Autodesk claims this is a product benefit for customers.

It certainly appears that organizations could employ and manage Flex licensing to manage the testing of specific software by specific users.

Flex and Projects

The Flex ability to assign users and costed/budgeted Flex token access for project-based work with specific software appears to be useful at face value from a business management perspective.

Whether that projected benefit stands up in the real-world professional contract negotiations and the scrutiny of project billing is another matter entirely. Your results may vary.

In many Civil 3D project scenarios, there is only a short-term and/or occasion need for some other excellent Autodesk products we might otherwise decide to avoid. For example: we may only need Revit, Revit Structure, or the useful Vehicle Tracking tools only occasionally and/or for limited timeframes within the project context.

We may also want to limit specific product usage only to trained and skilled individuals separately from day-to-day project team assignments that are normally tied to the more general Autodesk Subscription licensing.

Flex licensing may allow organizations in the future to expand the kinds or types of new projects they pursue and perform and which particular products they execute that project work in.

It is probably reasonable to believe that better matched and managed software to user choices will produce better project-based results for attentive AEC professional organizations.

Flex Questions to Consider

We should ask,

“Can we viably employ Flex to manage our mission technical specialists in our organizations and in our on-going project work?”

For some this will be worth the added hassle and cost. For others in Civil 3D Land not so much.

Flex and the Legal Eagles

I almost hate to bring this dicey issue up, but it deserves some attention.

“Can we viably employ Flex to manage the legal license liabilities of work performed by subcontractors?”

We can bet that Autodesk Legal considers the availability of the Flex license offering to be a significant future aid in pursuing the misuse of licensing in some AEC and mechanical production environments that are increasingly dominated by subcontracted work and workers.

If you are one of those skilled and trained subcontracted workers, the new Flex licensing may provide you a viable new pass-through billing scenario for the software license costs.

Flex and the Financial Markets

We can bet that the stock analysts will appreciate the Autodesk downstream income stream potentials of Flex. Flex supports the potential for future Autodesk license software growth in the traditional and even new markets that have not yet embraced Autodesk’s oft-toted and successful stock price move to the Cloud.

It will be interesting to see if Flex has the staying power of Gumby or the initial bang for the buck of a Stretch Armstrong.

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