Software Escrow: The Developer’s Edge

Topics: Technology Escrow

You need to protect your intellectual property, and your customers need to protect the applications that support their businesses. The solution? An escrow agreement that looks out for everyone’s interests.

You’d never think of running a business without certain types of protection—perhaps a tenant’s policy for your office space or health coverage for you and your employees. If you’re a software developer, you also need to protect your intellectual property, which is why a software escrow account comes into play.

With a software escrow account, you deposit your application’s source code at a secure facility. A contract between you and your customer outlines the parameters, such as what’s held in escrow, who can access it and when. Mutual agreement is the name of the game. After all, your business and your customer’s livelihood depend on it.

For your customers, getting continued access to the software you’ve created, as well as ongoing maintenance and technical support, can make (or break) the deal. That’s why some companies require you to have an escrow agreement in place with a trusted escrow provider before negotiations can even begin. They need assurance that your software will be accessible if you can’t support it, for whatever reason. With the source code in escrow, they get the safeguards they need to ensure continuity of their business. And you benefit by building trust (and your reputation), giving your customers peace of mind, while possibly also expediting the sales process.

What to Look For in an Escrow Provider

Now that you know why software escrow is so important, here’s what to look for when evaluating a third-party escrow provider:

  • Is the provider neutral? First and foremost, to build trust, your chosen provider needs to be neutral, with no vested interest in protecting one party over the other.
  • How are deposits secured? Every single activity, from receipt of the source code to its release, should be tracked and recorded—this is what’s known as chain of custody. This applies both to software that’s physically deposited in the vault and to assets sent electronically.
  • How secure is the storage facility? Review the facility’s policy for details on how its security systems prevent unauthorized access by physical and digital interlopers. And make sure it covers basics such as uninterruptable power supplies, fire-safe construction, and backup plans in case of natural or other types of disasters.
  • What kind of reports does the provider offer? Some customers, particularly those in businesses subject to audits or that handle sensitive information, may require periodic updates.
  • How can you manage your accounts? Look for a Web-based tool that lets you track information (such as deposit dates, work requests and authorizations) and perform transactions (such as adding or deleting company contacts) for all of your escrow accounts.
  • Does the provider offer verification services? Escrow ensures that the software is always accessible. A verification test ensures that it’s fully functional if and when your customer needs it.

In Escrow We Trust

Once you’ve got your escrow agreement in place with a trusted escrow provider, discuss it with potential customers right from the start. Doing so gives you an edge over the competition, while also ensuring business continuity—this is always top of mind for customers. And, by offering customers software escrow as a value-added service as part of your solution, you’re giving them one more reason to choose you over the competition.

Iron Mountain Suggests: Picking the Right Partner

Having a software escrow agreement in place can help drive business. And picking a trusted partner with a solid reputation can help:

  • Build trust. Software escrow can put customers’ minds at ease. Enhance that by working with a provider with proven expertise.
  • Create an audit trail. Locking code in your lawyer’s safe won’t show development history and validate ownership.
  • Deliver convenience. Secure electronic deposits let you update or access your software quickly.
  • Manage your assets. The Iron Mountain Escrow Management Center lets you manage all of your software escrow accounts securely from any location.

Do you have questions about software escrow services? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s consulting services team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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How Verification Services Fortify Your Software Escrow Solution