Bobby Meyer

software | tooling

Choosing Software Wisely: Exit Strategy

November 13, 2023

Exit Strategy

When selecting software, the choice isn’t just about what it does for you today; it’s also about how easily you can move on if and when it no longer suits your needs. A company may stop supporting your software, they may pivot to a model that no longer serves your purposes, they may be acquired and shuttered by their competition. You may simply outgrow it. This is where an exit strategy comes into play. It’s your plan for retrieving your data and transitioning to a new system efficiently.

The Ideal Scenario

Native Storage in Common, Open Formats

Before diving into data portability and export features, it’s important to recognize the ideal scenario: data stored in common, open formats from the outset. Formats like plain text and its markdown variants are great examples. CSV and JSON as well. This approach ensures that your data is not only accessible but also easily transferable without the need for complex conversion processes. Storing data in such universally understood formats lays a strong foundation for seamless data management and migration.

Key Considerations for an Exit Strategy

Data Portability and Export Features
The software should allow you to export your data in common formats like CSV or JSON. Easy export features ensure that you can retrieve your data without unnecessary hurdles.
Avoiding Vendor Lock-in
Vendor lock-in happens when a software’s design makes it difficult to switch to another service. Opt for software that uses standard data formats and offers flexible integration options, reducing the risk of lock-in.
Compatibility and Integration
Choose software that integrates well with other tools and systems. This ensures smoother data transfer if you decide to switch software later.
Contract Terms and Conditions
Review the software’s terms of service to understand your rights regarding data ownership and portability. Be aware of any fees or restrictions on terminating the service.
Planning for Data Migration
Have a strategy for data migration. This includes understanding the time and resources needed to move data securely to a new platform.

Open Source Software

An Implicit Exit Strategy

Open source software offers a unique advantage in terms of an exit strategy. If the software takes a direction that doesn’t align with your needs, you have the option to fork the code. This flexibility is a significant benefit, giving you control over your software destiny. In contrast, commercial software licenses can restrict your options, preventing you even from using a preferred version of software you have paid for. Open source software mitigates this risk.


When selecting software, consider not only its current features but also how it allows you to transition your data out when needed. A good exit strategy, especially one that includes open source options, ensures that your data remains accessible and transferable, giving you the flexibility to adapt to changing needs or opportunities.

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