Software vendors won’t normally give you access to the source code behind their application, let alone any technical documentation related to its development.
They consider this their intellectual property and wish to protect it. However this isn’t always the case.
Here are a few signs that your small business could take advantage of software escrow services.
How Software Escrow Works
There may be situations where you want to have access to the source code and its documentation. If this program is crucial to your business, and the vendor goes bankrupt or fails to make necessary updates, you could be in trouble.
One solution is for the vendor to provide this information to a third party specialist—a software escrow agent from places like EscrowTech. The agent retains the source code under an agreement which you enter into with the software vendor. The vendor knows that their precious information is protected. Any vendor updates are applied to the escrow code. But if certain conditions are met, such as the vendor going out of business or failing to live up to obligations, the agent releases the code to you.
Do You Need an Escrow Agent?
If you are using software essential to your business—perhaps an application that automatically archives your financial transactions—then the answer is “yes”. If the vendor goes out of business, or fails to provide new upgrades such as device drivers, your business model is in jeopardy. Having the source code to manage the program yourself could save you the time and cost of implementing an entirely new system.
Consider the relative strength of the companies that provide your business software. Are they thriving companies with a long history? A plucky startup with innovative software capabilities? Or is it a floundering company with a decent risk of going under? If your software provider falls under either of the last two categories, it’s a good idea to at least consult with an escrow agent to see your options for getting the source code to your business software.
What are the Chances Your Vendor Will Disappear?
There is a strong possibility that new companies may have funding problems, or not enough sales to sustain the business. Even with larger companies there’s no guarantee they will fall victim to hackers, natural disasters, or new interests. Having a software escrow account gives you some recourse if the vendor can no longer support the program you paid for.
What if the Vendor Doesn’t Offer Escrow Services?
Most responsible software companies know it protects their customers, so this kind of responsibility is good business. If your software vendor doesn’t provide escrow services, you might want to consider another vendor. If they do, take into account whether they offer a standard, fixed contract or are open to negotiation.
If you use an application crucial to running your business, especially one that was designed and customized just for you, a software escrow agent is a very good idea. Having access to the original computer code may be the key to your future.