How to protect your business from vendor lock-in?
Have you ever felt trapped in a “relationship” with the original vendor? Let’s talk about vendor lock-in in the software development community and the ways to avoid it.
Vendor lock-in is a situation when a customer is dependent on a vendor. This term works for various industries. In the software development world, it is often related to the fact that a client is practically tied to the software development provider and infrastructure provided by a software vendor. There are cases when clients don’t even have access to the code or cloud services.
At Bright Inventions, we are against vendor lock-in practices. We make sure that clients have access to the whole product, infrastructure and documentation. That is why we want to share knowledge on how to protect you and your business from vendor lock-in situations.
Sign up a contract with a software agency that includes transferring all intellectual properties to you – the client! It may seem obvious. However, in the tech world, IP still may be neglected during the contract negotiations.
Think twice before you hire a software development agency that wants to develop your product using a niche framework or unpopular programing languages and libraries. It may be a sign of potential issues in the future in case of moving the project to the in-house team or another software company. You would be forced to find experts with some very unpopular skills. That brings extra costs to the table.
When a software development studio plans to use its own infrastructure to deploy and host your software solution, you should reconsider that. It is wiser to have all the infrastructure tied to your accounts. If you don’t have your infrastructure yet, the software agency could set up the accounts for you. Practically speaking, you should manage your own cloud account, App Store & Google Play accounts, and have administrative access to any deployment environment. Thus in the future, you won’t have to worry about changing accounts. They will always stay with you.
Also, it applies to every other external tool that is necessary to build your app. For example traffic analytics, emails or text sending tools or any other systems that are necessary to develop your product. You should have access to all of them! And you should keep a limited number of people that have access to them as well. They should be accessible only to the crucial team members within your organisation and outside it (e.g. software development company).
There aren’t many developers passionate about writing documentation. Yet, probably everyone understands its importance. Well-written documentation helps to improve the development process. Also, it makes the onboarding process much more efficient for new developers in the team. It also helps to change a software vendor or move your project to an in-house team.
Perfect software documentation shouldn’t only include info about the code, framework and other general rules but also should contain architecture decision records (known also as decision template). This is a story behind every crucial development decision. Sharing a full context will definitely help a new team to understand the software development process.
You may never feel the need to change your software development company. Still, it is crucial to establish some ground rules at the beginning of cooperation to protect your independence as a client and product owner. At Bright Inventions, we believe that it is beneficial for both sides. It protects the client but also brings extra motivation to the development team. When your software vendor is aware of the fact that there is always an option to move your product somewhere else, they feel a bigger responsibility to work the best they can. In the end, the worst thing that could happen during the software development process is stagnancy.
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