How to avoid vendor lock-in? – Devolon

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How to avoid vendor lock-in?

23.02.2021

When choosing a service provider, it is important to avoid vendor lock-in. This simply means that the service provider binds the customer to itself against the customer’s best interests. The problem results in high and generally rising prices and difficulty of switching suppliers

Here, we have brought together some advice, based on experience, that we hope you will find helpful.

  1. 1. An agreement-based vendor lock-in is the easiest lock-in to prevent

Check the agreement and attachments, as well as the other agreements. In particular, see who owns the system and the information generated by it, what the period of notice is and, if it is tied to the period of validity, both. A calendar year is annoyingly often set as the contract period and the period of notice as three months before the start of the next contract period. So if you are not awake to this in August-September, the next chance for termination will be after more than a year has passed.

  1. 2. Hidden costs – i.e. costs not mentioned anywhere

Additional work often ensues, and its costs should be agreed in advance. Such prices are sometimes mentioned in connection with the service price – for example, on an hourly basis – but it is unfortunately common for them not to be mentioned at all. If they have not been agreed, the supplier is free to charge any price for additional work, i.e. work that the customer is often forced to buy.

  1. 3. Documentation, documentation, documentation

Require your service provider to hand over the available technical documentation in case you change supplier. This is like insurance. An experienced service developer can quickly take over provision of even the most difficult services – if the service is carefully documented.

  1. 4. Making integrations difficult

Integrating systems with each other, such as an ERP system and e-commerce, is the ‘bread and butter’ of IT work, and combining systems from various vendors is simple in principle. In practice, this can be made so expensive that the customer has no choice but to order all the products from the same supplier. When concluding a contract, check the pricing of possible integrations and the cost of interface use.

  1. 5. Technological vendor lock-in

Give preference to frequently used programming languages and products. Alarm bells should ring if the seller starts talking about some new and great – but little-used – technology. It may be that the technology is only available to a few high-end consultants across the country, and the customer has no choice but to buy it from them. In addition, globally used technologies will continue to be developed for a long time to come.

  1. 6. Making data transfer more difficult

Even if papers for changing service provider have already been drawn up, the practical transfer work can prove to be surprisingly complex, time-consuming and expensive. When making the first contract, clarify the tools and procedures for data transfer: i.e. who does what and how, and how this is billed for.

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