Forget the lock-in contracts

It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.”
Confucius
.

Further to yesterday’s blog about OSS Consulting by Walking Around (CBWA), consultants and vendors should be continually striving to understand their client’s businesses better. That’s a given of course.

It’s not the duration of the placement (of product in the case of vendors or of the assignment in the case of consultants) that is relevant, but the customer-specific insight developed during that time that makes you irreplaceable.

OSS vendors are renowned for trying to make their products impossible to remove once a customer has commissioned them, whether by technical or contractual means. In these types of situations, I’ve sadly found customers to be cynical and untrusting of their vendors.

By contrast, if you go out of your way to become sufficiently valuable in your clients’s eyes, you won’t need to engineer lock-in, you’ll get it from the strength of the mutual relationship. It’s possible to become unquestionably valuable by delivering your solution in a technically brilliant manner, but it’s far more likely if you’re continually evaluating your customer’s business and enhancing the OSS to suit.

I recently heard a story about one of our industry’s biggest vendors signing a deal with a major corporate customer. The contract stipulated that the customer must not even hold meetings with any organisation that resembled being a competitor for the duration of the 5 year contract or else the contract would be void (and hefty penalties would apply).

That doesn’t imply trust or an intent to add value to the customer if you ask me.

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