Figma Users Face Challenges After Adobe Aquisition - How To Manage It
In September 2022, Adobe announced it had entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Figma, a popular design collaboration tool for interactive mobile and web applications. While Adobe is potentially facing an antitrust lawsuit filed by the DOJ, this delay gives companies a bit more time to prepare their IT teams and make sure they have all their ducks in a row for the merger.
Figma, founded in 2012, has a loyal following among designers and developers. They love it for its real-time collaboration, rapid prototyping capabilities, and simplicity. It allows multiple people to work on the same document simultaneously and not blink an eye.
Plus, Figma has been a less expensive alternative to Adobe’s XD. A SaaS tool popular with creatives in marketing and sales, it had also begun to penetrate HR. With this acquisition, Adobe is essentially eliminating a major competitor.
A number of my clients who already use Figma and some who use XD have asked me how I foresee the merger will affect them.
Here’s what I have to say:
Your Team’s Already Using Figma - How Will The Acquisition Affect You?
We would like to believe that Adobe will offer Figma as a stand-alone tool, but based on previous history, it’s more likely it will be folded into something else, like Photoshop or Illustrator. Either way, it’s going to be more expensive to use.
You will lose your agreement with Figma and have to deal with Adobe and their audits, compatibilities, SaaS licensing vs. on-premise licensing, and the like.
More insidiously, you won’t lose your current Figma agreements right away. You will be offered incentives and discounts to voluntarily move to the new software. So be sure to know exactly what your Figma agreement is worth to you and your organization so you can make an accurate cost-comparison analysis of the new Adobe offering.
Your Team’s Using Adobe XD - How Will The Acquisition Affect You?
It’s a sure bet that Adobe will try to sell you Figma. They’re going to talk to your user base and say, “Look at all the cool things you can do with it!” Or, they may put you over a barrel during an audit and use it as leverage to make you buy Figma when you’re not ready.
If your sales, marketing, and HR departments were already pushing for Figma, you have no reason to fight them anymore. But there are four questions you’ll need to answer before bringing it into your environment:
Question 1. What will it cost to transition to this completely new program?
It will have to be vetted by your business leaders, so you’ll have to calculate the investment in time, treasure, and talent it will require.
Question 2: Does it meet the necessary requirements for usage? Due to the risk of cybersecurity issues, you really should get approval from ITSecOps (IT Security Operations) to bring this new tool into your computing environment to give them permission to bring it into the environment.
Question 3: Who’s going to pay for the transition? Finance may be willing to fund it, but they may have rules about how it’s going to be paid for. Will it be corporate, so all employees can access it? Or a specific cost center, team, or geographic area? And so on…
Question 4: Can you deploy it? You’ll have to find out if deploying Figma will require any upgrades or downgrades of your existing equipment and what training your help desk will need. Just because Figma is cloud-based SaaS doesn’t mean firewalls, VPNs, and web browsers will automatically work!
Question 5: How do you recover software and licenses from the people who don’t need XD anymore? At one time Adobe offered XD as a stand-alone on-premises license, which meant your files were supposed to be yours ad infinitum. Now, let’s say, they come in and offer you a really great deal on Figma or use it as a way to reduce or eliminate a software penalty.
If you close out your XD license and migrate to Figma, what will happen to your files? After all, you’re not paying maintenance or license fees. You’re going to have to decide if it makes sense to give up your XD license and go to a subscription model.
Through all the above steps, you need to pay attention to how different groups will use it. Can your system detect usage? Can your system detect deployment? Can you redeploy licenses as you need them?
Then, you’re going to need to test it in your environment with the people who’ve been asking for it. Treat them as guinea pigs and let them report back to you how it’s working.
If the testing is good and you have a champion for the switch, you can release it into your environment.
What To Do If You Don’t Know What To Do
You need to know what your rights and leverage are when Adobe comes in with their lawyers and auditors and tries to strong-arm you into an agreement that’s not to your advantage but to theirs. If you need help, look for a SAM person (like me!) who is an expert in license negotiations and ask them to take a look, so you have a firm grasp of what your rights are within that license agreement before you are backed into a corner.