IT vendor management: What's your No. 1 tips for avoiding lock-in?

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Director in Manufacturing, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I always develop my exit strategy while I am developing my on-boarding project to bring the vendor in. If you’re a long term employee you always have the mindset for several moves forward. We rarely kept a vendor over 5 years and I was at my last company 35 years. If you plan on staying around the exit strategy is as important as onboarding

The second best is if possible use the second best vendor for 5-10% of the work or section of the work. If the top vendor isn’t working out you can migrate more work to the secondary vendor
CIO in Services (non-Government), 201 - 500 employees
Documentation!!!  The more thoroughly you and your vendor can document what you are doing, the more easy and transition can be achieved.
Secondly, always have at least three vendors who can do the same job for you; this is just a smart move in case your vendor goes out of business, raises their rates too high, or suddenly begin to suck at what they are doing for you.  It's also a great way to negotiate pricing if you can leverage them against each other.
Chief Information Security Officer in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Legal agreement and healthy relationship with partners 
Board Member in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
The No. 1 tip based on my experience:

We signed a 5 year contract with one of the large service providers with the following condition.

Every year, your performance will be measured on the defined KPIs (part of the negotiated contract). If you achieve or exceed the desired outcomes and results, the contract will be renewed for the next year. If you exceed, there would be a financial incentive also. If you are unable to achieve the defined metrics and KPIs for reasons not attributable to us (customer), the terms of continued engagement will be mutually decided and to be concluded within 30 days, else the wind down process will begin which includes a peaceful handover to the alternative provider over the transition period of 90 days which shall begin 30 days after the expiry of the deadline to re-sign the contract.

We also had a bank guarantee from the service provider for default of terms or quality of service. It worked well for us.
1 1 Reply
Owner, Self-employed

That's a great way to offset the burden of "lock-in"!
Would you be willing to share some of the KPIs you recommend in general for technology service contracts?

Manager in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
My number one tip for avoiding vendor lock in is to research and compare multiple vendors before signing any agreements. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the agreement and that you can easily switch to another vendor should the need arise. Look for vendors that offer flexible pricing options or open source solutions that allow you to customize and maintain the solution yourself.
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Shorter contracts.
Senior Vice President, Engineering in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Quarterly audits and termination in case of noncompliance, should have provisions in the original contract.
CIO / Managing Partner in Manufacturing, 2 - 10 employees
Ensure good terms to protect you on hand-over / termination of the contract.
Good up-front scenario planning for how you would migrate, and use that to build the contract.
Be careful to retain key knowledge in house, as the saying goes "never outsource the brain".

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