It is said that software is eating the world and the data is available to back it with all sorts of acronyms such as SaaS and PaaS coming to the fore and defining the global shift to the proverbial cloud. This migration has also birthed new companies that are looking to deliver business efficiencies riding off these emergent technologies. However, the move from legacy systems by older enterprises and the adoption of new technology by freshly minted businesses faces one major stumbling block; that of business continuity. Admittedly any business will move cautiously to take up business critical services offered by a growing number of startups more strongly so on commissioned projects. Tales have been told of developers who go missing or startups that burn out and go belly up leaving clients distraught and back to zero nursing losses in time, capital and even market share – where the technology was to deliver one form or other of competitive advantage.
There exists one model of engagement – technology escrow, which is yet to see widespread adoption locally, that can go a long way in mitigating risks and challenges associated with development and deployment of software based solutions. Technology escrow involves the placement of project assets such as software source code in repository managed by an independent third party to ensure the continued support and maintenance of custom software, a necessary process linked to the dynamic needs of a business. This form of escrow gives remedy to the licensee if the licensor – an individual developer or software development house, fails to meet its obligations as agreed in the support license or service level agreement through bankruptcy, business dissolution, acquisition, pivot, merger or end of life announcement.
Applied more rigorously to our growing software market; developers, development houses and the businesses that they serve can both rest easier with the knowledge that their interests are well taken care off. It can be considered a necessary evil but if your business cannot survive the technology outage, then it should be a default decision to take. Any developer who has technology escrow as part of their contract offering would almost instantly increase their marketplace credibility and improve conversions on their sales channel as they will be aligning with what is increasingly being adopted as regulatory framework within many corporate organizations.
Both producer and consumer need to weigh the risks and make necessary budgetary allocations to incorporate this best practice.