In over a dozen years working in the field of Business Process Integration, I have seen many, many forms of lock-in. In Core-business versus business criticality I explained the misunderstanding most businesses suffer from.
Typically, the less knowledge a company has of something, the greater the lock-in - and vice versa
There are three types of lock-in:
- vendor lock-in
- third-party lock-in
- knowledge lock-in
- vendor: you're a Christian or a GOP
- third-party: you only listen to your town church or politician
- knowledge: you tell your children to always listen to your town church or politician
Vendor lock-in starts when your company decides to single out a single vendor. Microsoft, SAP, Oracle: all those are unique and irreplaceable. There are pros, but also cons to a decision like that.
- Pros: one vendor, one big deal and margin to negotiate - once. One-size-fits-all (hehe) and all your diversity will end!
- Cons: your vendor is unique and irreplaceable, and there's no vendor in the world who has a package that covers all your diversity. It's the Law of USP: if you have unique selling points, chances are slim they're covered in ready-made applications, isn't it? Only when you do boring business you can take an (any!) off-the-shelf product
- Pros: one third party who'll probably engage in some kind of partnership - they'll take care of all your problems, and with the large organisation behind them, be able to help you very well
- Cons: the distance increases. Chances are, you'll just be used by the third-party to educate their people on the vendor you picked - after all the contract's been negotiated, and now the money has to be made
- Pros: one third party who handles it all! Now that's perfect, isn't it? Just like taking your car to the garage - they'll fix it for you, you don't have to know anything!
- Cons: the rubber band has stretched to the max. Giving away knowledge means giving away control, but most importantly the ability to judge whether you're not being ripped off - on purpose or by accident. A situation like this will usually end with your entire locked-in operation being supported by the Last of the Mohicans - and that usually is one guy alone
Rule number two? Have your friends, whatever form they take, document their part of the deal. That's their business, so their responsibility - have them take it, and keep it
Rule number three? Get a second opinion every once in a while to keep the dogs from falling asleep - that means your own people, and your external friends
If you'd use the lock more often, you wouldn't lose the key