In association with Insight Legal Software: beware software suppliers who charge to give your data back at the end of a contract

In today's legal sector, transferring software suppliers will often involve migrating data from your current system to a new one. Some new suppliers may look at a client's lifetime value and charge a set fee to complete the transfer; others may charge full daily rates.

But what if your current supplier also says it wants money to give back your data?

Client retention is an important metric for software companies, which can greatly impact their business value. Therefore, providers may seek to keep customers by any means possible.

In the cloud software era, legal data typically sits in a multi-tenanted environment – making it more difficult to pick up and provide a copy of an entire database. You may be offered your data back through reports; however, this doesn't provide a complete “data dump” and may leave pools of data locked up in the system. These pitfalls often leave firms stuck with suppliers, even if the solution isn't fully supporting their business.

They may not even be actually working to hand back your data, or it may be a final attempt to get money from you before you leave. Either way, unsuspecting firms can be left out of pocket or with a cache of inaccessible data, or both.

The moral is that many firms are unknowingly held to ransom by suppliers, and anyone seeking new software should ensure they can get their data back for free and in full before they even sign. But how exactly can firms do this?

Check the fine print: Firms should check the fine print to ensure they only deal with suppliers that offer control over their entire dataset if they decide to leave. Clauses facilitating data ransom are often buried under layers of information about the value the software can deliver. Read these with a fine tooth comb before you agree.

Come armed with questions: It is important to ask the right questions in the market research phase. Be direct and ask potential suppliers about their data supply and retention policies, to understand exactly how your data will be unlocked from their system if you leave.

Take your time: Looming contract expiry or regulatory changes can cause firms to make fast decisions about new suppliers, which can lead to oversight when checking the status of their data with a particular provider. Keeping abreast of change and starting research early gives enough time to evaluate options fully and distinguish those who don't hold data to ransom from the rest.

Taking these precautions can ultimately be the difference between firms retaining full control of their data, or facing a sizeable bill to pull data from these systems quickly and effectively. They are also essential for cutting out market noise to hone in on reputable and transparent suppliers, instead of those who conditionally lock their rightful data in their system.

The Author
Brian Welsh, CEO of Insight Legal. To discuss this topic further or the services Insight Legal can offer, please call them on 0141 406 1355, email or visit:
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