Understanding Independent Software Vendor (ISV): Definition and Role

Published on: August 22, 2022
LicenseSpring Glossary
Table of Contents:

You are probably on this page because you came across the acronym ISV.

If you want to know what an ISV is, and how to distinguish it from other types of software providers, then you’ve come to the right place!


What is an Independent Software Vendor (ISV):

An Independent Software Vendor (ISV), as its name suggests, is a company or a person that develops and sells or licenses software to customers or end users.

The primary focus of an ISV is selling the software they develop, rather than engaging in additional activities such as hardware sales, reselling other software, or operating a marketplace to sell software.

Typically, an ISV is responsible for selling their software product, which defines their role in the industry.

ISVs can also be referred to as a “Vendor”, “Software Vendor”, “Software Publisher”, or “Independent Software Vendor”.

How Do Independent Software Vendors Work?

ISVs follow a typical workflow that involves several key steps:

Software Development:

  • ISVs design, develop, and create software applications tailored to specific purposes or industries.
  • They invest in research, coding, testing, and refining the software to ensure it meets user needs and quality standards.

Licensing and Distribution:

  • Once the software is developed, independent software vendors establish licensing models that define how customers can acquire and use their software.
  • They may offer software licensing options like perpetual licenses, subscription-based models, or usage-based licenses.
  • ISVs distribute their software through various channels, including direct sales, online marketplaces, or partnerships with resellers.

Sales and Marketing:

  • ISVs engage in sales and marketing activities to promote their software products. This involves identifying target markets, creating marketing campaigns, attending industry events, and building relationships with potential customers.
  • They may provide demonstrations, trial versions, or documentation to showcase the value and capabilities of their software.

Customer Support and Maintenance:

  • ISVs lend support services to assist users with software installation, troubleshooting, and addressing any issues or questions that arise.
  • They also release software updates and patches to ensure the software remains secure, reliable, and up-to-date.

Revenue Generation:

  • Independent software vendors generate revenue through software sales, license renewals, and maintenance or support contracts.
  • Some ISVs may also explore additional revenue streams, such as offering add-on modules, customization services, or consulting.

The Importance of an Independent Software Vendor Certification:

ISV certification is crucial for both software vendors and customers due to the following reasons:

Quality Assurance:

Certification ensures that the software meets industry standards and undergoes thorough testing, instilling confidence in its quality and reliability.

Compatibility and Interoperability:

Certified software is tested for compatibility with specific platforms, operating systems, and applications, reducing integration challenges and ensuring seamless operation.

Vendor Credibility:

Certification enhances the reputation of software vendors, demonstrating their commitment to delivering high-quality solutions and complying with industry standards.

Market Differentiation:

Certification sets vendors apart from competitors, showcasing their expertise and dedication to quality, giving them a competitive edge.

Customer Confidence and Risk Reduction:

Certification reduces the risk of software failures, security vulnerabilities, and compatibility issues, increasing customer confidence in the software's reliability.

Support and Maintenance:

Certified vendors often provide enhanced technical support and maintenance services, offering specialized assistance and faster response times to customers.

Compliance and Regulations:

Certification helps vendors and customers meet industry-specific regulations and compliance requirements, ensuring data privacy and security.

The Benefits of Independent Software Vendors:

Specialized Expertise:

ISVs focus their resources on developing software for specific industries or niche markets.

Their specialized expertise allows them to understand the unique needs and challenges of those industries, resulting in software solutions tailored to meet specific requirements effectively.

Time and Cost Efficiency:

By leveraging pre-built software components or platforms, ISVs can accelerate the development process. This saves time and reduces costs compared to building software from scratch.

Customers can benefit from cost-effective solutions that are ready for deployment in a shorter time frame.

Scalability and Flexibility:

ISVs often design their software to be scalable and flexible, allowing customers to adapt and expand their usage as needed.

This scalability enables businesses to grow without significant disruptions or the need for extensive modifications to the software.

Innovation and Upgrades:

ISVs are driven by innovation, continuously enhancing their software offerings with new features and functionalities.

An end user can benefit from regular upgrades and access to the latest technology advancements without having to invest heavily in internal research and development.

Integration Capabilities:

Independent software vendors understand the importance of integrating their software programs with other business systems and applications.

They often provide integration capabilities or offer APIs that enable seamless integration with existing software infrastructure, enhancing productivity and streamlining workflows.

More information about LicenseSpring's Software Licensing API.

Types of ISV Partnerships:

Here are some types of ISV partnerships:

  1. Technology Partnerships: ISV partners collaborate to integrate software products or technologies.
  2. Reseller Partnerships: Partnering to resell or distribute software products.
  3. OEM Partnerships: Embedding software with another company's product.
  4. Consulting Partnerships: Using software as part of a consulting firm's services.
  5. Strategic Partnerships: Collaborating with complementary companies for mutual growth.
  6. Distribution Partnerships: Partnering with distributors or resellers to expand software distribution.
  7. Platform Partnerships: Developing software solutions on a platform's infrastructure.

Independent Software Vendor Best Practices:

Some practices of successful independent software vendors include:

Understanding Customer Needs:

Thoroughly understand customer requirements and pain points to develop custom solutions and software that addresses their specific needs.

Continuous Innovation:

Foster a culture of continuous innovation to stay ahead of the competition and deliver cutting-edge solutions.

Agile Development:

Adopt agile development methodologies to increase flexibility, adaptability, and speed in software development cycles.

Robust Testing and Quality Assurance:

Implement rigorous testing and quality assurance processes to ensure software reliability, performance, and security.

Effective Project Management:

Implement efficient project management practices to ensure timely delivery, resource optimization, and effective collaboration.

Strong Documentation:

Maintain comprehensive and up-to-date documentation to facilitate easier

Example of an ISV:

Here is an example of an independent software vendor, who happens to be one of our customers: 

  • Company Name: Arkio ehf.
  • Website: Arkio Official Website
  • What do they do: They develop and sell interior design software applications that run on many different environments, including Virtual Reality, and Mobile phones.
  • Why they are an ISV: Arkio is an ISV because they do not stay away from developing and distributing their apps to end users.

ISVs vs. Independent Hardware Vendors

ISVs focus on software development, creating applications, automation tools, and platforms to meet specific needs.

IHVs focus on hardware development, designing, and selling hardware manufacturers' physical devices or components.

Edmon Moren Headshot
Edmon MorenLicenseSpring Co-Founder
Cofounder of PDF Pro Software ltd. and of LicenseSpring Software Inc. I live in Beautiful British Columbia. I want to build the best Software Licensing Company in the world.