The Pitfalls of Vendor-Centric Software
Do you have costly hardware sitting in storage, unusable because the software is no longer supported or no longer available? Do your computers have shortcuts on their desktops that your techs will never click, with multi-GBs of disc space committed to a version of pipeline software that your company will no longer use?
How does this happen? Where does it all go wrong? It begins when a pipeline company contracts with a type of investigation software we like to call “vendor-centric”, sometimes called vendor-locked or proprietary software. Essentially, Vendor-centric software is specially designed to run exclusively on one brand of hardware or a “family” of products within a brand.
Most inspection companies don’t go looking to install this sort of vendor-centric software. Usually, these deals happen as an add-on purchase to new hardware--new crawlers and other equipment for your fleet. The salesman explains that their exclusive in-house software is specially set up to take full advantage of all their product’s equipment features. Terms such as “seamless integration” enter the conversation. The logical-sounding argument “run our software for optimal performance.” They may offer incentives. From the positive--a tempting price break. Or the negative--claims that running any software other than theirs voids the equipment warranty.
They sweeten the deal--a huge break on training and installation, and dedicated support staff. All you need to do is commit to a long-term contract. Soon you’re convinced you’d be silly NOT to go with the vendor-centric software.
But wait. Making that commitment comes with many, many pitfalls that may not seem obvious at first. Those pitfalls can prove a huge detriment to your company in the long run--and by “long run” we mean “when it’s too late to get out of a bad deal without taking a huge bath.”
Let’s take a closer look at the pitfalls of vendor-centric inspection software.First, let’s run through the more obvious downsides.
● MOTIVATION. Let’s be real. A company salesman pushes the in-house software because it’s an upsell that adds to their commission. Yes, that salesman may honestly believe their software is the best. But that upsell is ALSO motivating their actions.

● Hardware vendors specialize in hardware. That means software will always be

secondary to that company, so the company’s customer service expertise on software

will take a backseat to hardware. In many cases, hardware companies outsource their

software to another company altogether, so they do not have direct quality control of the

software or its tech support response time. Do you want to work with a company that

outsources its own product?

● VENDOR-CENTRIC SOFTWARE COMPLICATES COLLABORATION. Need to bring on another contractor to help out on a large investigation project? Not so fast, is the company’s software compatible with yours? Can your software output files to something they can use? Can THEY output files to something YOU can use? Can your teams interact onsite? That’s where things get tricky. And the more you collaborate with other companies, the more headaches you have to deal with. You start to find out the hard
way just how much your vendor-centric software does not play well with others.
● YOU’RE LOCKED IN TO THE VENDOR’S METHOD. Don’t like how the software formats reports? Maybe you have some flexibility… or maybe you don’t. Your options are at the whim of the software’s in-house programmers.
So maybe you knew all that going in, but you signed on anyway. Now consider the less-obvious, and perhaps more insidious, pitfalls of proprietary software.
● YOU HAVE SUPPORT… UNTIL YOU DON’T. Suddenly, the company you’ve contracted with swaps out software, creates a new platform, adds new features… suddenly you are required to sign on to a new package with a new commitment and... oh yes, there’s an additional charge to upgrade. Your team needs to be retrained, your computers updated, and if you try to stick it out with the old version, the tech support you’d counted on may not help you until you upgrade. In fact, it’s a common industry

practice that a vendor only gets paid for new system sales, so it’s in their best interest to

get you to buy again every couple of years..

● THE COST TO SWITCH IS MUCH HIGHER WHEN YOU’RE ALREADY LOCKED IN TO VENDOR-CENTRIC SOFTWARE. Being “all in” with one brand means that it costs more to be “all out.” Not only do you have to replace the equipment BUT you have to replace
all those software licenses on your laptops AND retrain your techs on something else.
● But the potentially dirtiest deal: YOUR COMPANY’S LIBRARY OF INSPECTIONS MAY NOW BE IN AN UNUSABLE FORMAT. That’s right, all those headaches that you went through collaborating with other companies have come back to bite you a second time, only now you’re on the other side of things. How does your company go forward if it can’t access its own archive? (There are solutions, but you probably won’t like them).
On the other hand, let’s look at how “untethered” software--a program written to work with a wide array of hardware and brands (like POSM) would have helped you avoid many of these pitfalls. With untethered software:
● You can swap out your equipment without ditching your software.
● You can work with other contractors and even use their hardware with your software when necessary, and vice-versa.
● You don’t need to retrain your engineers or other employees (Well… not from scratch, anyway. A good retraining on the latest techniques every few years is good practice.)
● You own your data. It remains portable and accessible to your company for years to come, no matter what hardware you use.
Bottom line: Untethered pipeline inspection software is designed to run on an array of hardware and brand platforms. Untethered software emphasizes flexibility, offers the most options, and conforms to standardized industry methods transferable to any brand of equipment in your fleet.
Don’t fall into the vendor-centric software pitfalls! Make sure your pipeline inspection software is one of many flexible, compatible, fully standardized untethered varieties on the market. Making the right choice is way too important.
We may be a bit bias, but we happen to think POSM Software is the most robust, user-friendly, and most “untethered” inspection software to come down the pipe. We keep your technicians inspecting pipelines, not learning a new software. And we never, EVER make you re-purchase

your program. Software updates of equivalent packages are always FREE (with an active or

upon renewing your annual service support contract). Your computers are always running the

latest version with the most updated features. In the long run, we’re one of the best values, and

easily one of the most cost-effective options.

POSM is compatible with every major brand on the market. We don’t force our customers to
re-purchase software or renegotiate contracts just because we’ve updated the features. And our dedicated tech support is always there for you. We’re 100% compatible with NASSCO V7 templates and CityWorks. And last but not least, your inspection library will always remain accessible, no matter how many times you swap out your equipment. Want to give it a try? Click
this link to have our tech support set you up with a FREE 60-Day no-obligation trial!