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Calling all Magento merchants - purchase your own extensions!

In almost 15 years of working with Magento we have taken on many projects from other agencies large and small. One distinguishing factor which usually governs our overall respect for peer agencies, is whether they help merchants manage their own extensions. There are few things worse than taking on a project/client when their licensing and extensions is like a rats nest of confusion and complications over who purchased what. This not only makes it more difficult to work with composer but it also adds legal risk of ownership and adds cost to future upgrades.

If as a merchant, you own all the accounts and therefore the contact methods, licenses, accounts and composer keys, then you are in control and can become agnostic and even work with multiple development agencies or teams simultaneously. 

  • Never leave it to an external supplier, partner or contract developer
  • Always purchase and manage your extension subscriptions in-house
  • Keep a record of your extension vendors/accounts/keys
  • Always try and use Composer when managing vendor extensions

Monogency (mono agency)

There’s a word I just made up - or Mono Agency. To us this refers to agencies bearing a culture aimed not at providing the best service, but protecting their own commercial interests i.e tying the merchant in as much as possible.

Some agencies insist on being the single SI to a Magento merchant, often using SLA's as their reasons. This might be the only way they are prepared to work. That’s not to say this is not still normal, however as merchants are now developing more mature dev ops processes, we are seeing merchants choose to work with multiple agencies or development teams at a time. This year alone we have experience of working with 2 very large UK retailers who have both internal development teams and also are working with multiple SI’s at the same time. This requires standardisation in operational processes and ultimately ownership of said processes by the merchant. 

The future is Polygency (poly agency)

For us, merchants whom can be agency-agnostic means they can refrain from agency tie-ins, which is ultimately risk-reducing, if done properly. In 15 years of Magento Development, the costs we have charged to take over project and help merchants become more independent, has often outweighed the development costs. This should not be part of the modern TCO, otherwise the platform and the merchant both suffer.

So looping back to the actual article title, if you are working with an agent insistent on purchasing your extensions or not openly helping you to manage your own commercial vendor accounts, its likely you are working with an agency that is locking you into their processes, culture, costs, skill-sets. Ultimately this is a risk to your business.