What do you expect when you work with a software vendor?
That’s not a rhetorical question.
When you decide to work with — to enter into a mutually binding contractual obligation with — a software vendor, you have a set of expectations. Regardless of whether you state or document all of those expectations, you have them. You’re human. Expecting is what we humans do.
Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, relationships between companies and software vendors don’t always fail because of technical issues. They don’t always fail because the implementation went south or because the software didn’t do what it was supposed to do. They do sometimes fail because both parties neglected to fully and clearly express their expectations.
Here’s the Middle Ground
Strangely enough, every company and every software vendor should share at least one expectation: Both parties should expect the company to be as independent of the vendor as the company wants to be. Whether the company wants the software to count beans, to book appointments, to monitor inventory, to track orders in restaurants, to monitor mileage and maintenance for fleet cars, or to administer policies, claims, and billing, the company and the vendor should want the company to be dependent on and beholden to the vendor — only as long as and only to the degree the company wants to be.
Software licenses and SaaS subscriptions don’t come with handcuffs … at least they shouldn’t. At the very least they should come with a key to unlock any such handcuffs. They should come with a clear roadmap showing you how to get to that key when you want it. And they should come with a clear indication of the vendor’s commitment to being with you at every step of your way to that key.
Is that a pipe dream? You won’t know till you talk to the vendor. And you shouldn’t stop talking to the vendor until you do know.
The day you contract your new software might not be Independence Day. But it should be the first day of your journey to the independence you expect.