The Scourge of Jargon

CL2

This article has been contributed by Chris Lee – currently working with Six Degrees Group who provide integrated managed data services linking people, places and clouds.

 

“Going forward, and with enough synergy, we can push the envelope on this project. We know it has social currency; we know it’s on brand. Let’s ship it by COP Friday.”

We all know someone who talks like this. Whether it’s your colleague, your boss, or even you! Nobody’s safe from the scourge of jargon and, what we like to call, “jargonistas” – the people who like nothing better than to throw some jargon into their sentences to both infuriate and isolate people out-of-the-know.

 

Of course, a world without jargon would be a peaceful, wonderful world, but it would also be a world where it would take much longer to explain concepts and tasks, and the office would be awash with people explaining things. Of course jargon isn’t tied to a specific industry, so who uses it the most?

A survey conducted by Six Degrees found that people perceive IT professionals as using more jargon than bankers, lawyers and politicians combined. This finding complimented by the fact that the meaning of the jargon is often unknown: 22% believed Platform as a Service (PaaS) was a new philosophy in railway management, while 16% thought Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) was a new road project.

 

The Internet is arguably the centre of the jargonista’s universe – for whatever reason, people online seem to use jargon whenever and wherever they can. We’ve had a look and found the following description of an every-day program that millions of people use daily, which was obviously written by a jargonista. Can you identify this service from the jargon-filled description?

[Service] is a cloud storage service that enables users to store files on remote cloud servers and the ability to share files within a synchronized format. [Service] provides an online storage solution powered by cloud computing service model of infrastructure as a service (IaaS). [Service] works by installing an application on client system, which immediately uploads the data to their own cloud storage servers. The uploaded data can be accessed from the installed application or through an online control panel. [Service] file sharing works in cohesion with file synchronization which keeps the file routinely updated across all shared nodes even if it’s shared among many people, therefore every single recipient will always receive the latest version of the file. [Service] is an example of a storage-as-a-service business model.

Got the answer? No? You may know it as as ‘Dropbox’ (definition source).

 

Jargon is hardly a new phenomenon, though it is a self-perpetuating one: an article from a 1987 issue of the Journal of Business and Technical Communication says “jargon persists because people think that business letters should use jargon and because using jargon enables authors to write or dictate quickly” (source).

Using the Six Degrees jargon buster we looked at which terms have the most use, and have given jargon-free definitions of the terms below. These illustrate how seemingly simple statements can be turned into tremendously tumultuous titles.

 

SaaS: 60,500 searches per month

“In a SaaS model, the cloud service provider is responsible for all technical elements from infrastructure, through platform, to the application itself. The customer will typically pay on a “per user, per month” model, e.g. if they wish to rent Microsoft Exchange mailboxes, this is delivery by the provider from their multi-tenant platform”

Example of this service: Gmail

 

PaaS: 3,600 searches per month

“A PaaS offering provides a suite of tools designed to provide the necessary database, management, development and deployment tools for the creation and delivery of business applications, mobile apps, social apps, microsites, websites, and other software-driven solution”

Example of this service: Google App Engine

 

IaaS: 1,900 searches per month

“The first few layers of the hosting value chain (see The Hosting Stack for more details) whereby cloud-based infrastructure (e.g. compute and storage) is provided as a Service for a time-based rental model (per minute, hour, day, week, month, etc)”

Example of this service: Amazon Web Services

 

Conclusion

Obviously jargon has its place (technical descriptions or emails where you’re trying to sound clever in front of your colleagues being the only two we can think of), however using it in your day-to-day speech isn’t always necessary.

Understanding which situations require language like the above, and then which terms to choose, is the hallmark of a successful communicator, whilst using terms like the above to communicate to anyone you meet is the hallmark of a jargonista. Feel free to deploy jargon in a situation where all involved will understand. Just be aware of the risk coming from when you use it to communicate with someone who isn’t clued-up on the terminology. Your colleague might understand what you’re referring to, but your mates at the pub? Probably not.

 


Chris Lee has 6 years’ experience in the online marketing and SEO space and has an interest in technology and cloud related projects. He is currently working with the Six Degrees Group to promote such projects in an interesting and accessible way.

 

Review: Cherwell for Outside IT 2014

logo_cherwell-softwareCherwell Service Management

This independent review is part of our Outside IT Review.

To download the full report as a PDF please visit : http://download.itassetmanagement.net/outside-it/

 

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Cherwell is an established vendor within the ITSM market, with a particular focus on Customer Experience. It has a growing emphasis on use of its product and service management beyond the IT/ITSM area, and is seen to market and promote the concepts of IT enablement positively and consistently.Cherwell boasts a number of customer success stories and positive case studies of the use of the product beyond IT. There is a clear connection between their marketing messages and implementation stories in this area.Cherwell provides fully inclusive concurrent user usage for both perpetual and SaaS licensing models. Product is sold as one complete application, i.e. not modular
Strengths
  • Intuitive interface for building and maintaining workflow and extended functionality – attractive object based forms, workflow and reports
  • Product provides secure framework for user-developed configuration that is protected for upgrades
  • Vendor promotes positive and experienced approach to customer experience and tools as enabler for service management and business functions
Weaknesses
  • Vendor will need to maintain focus on where to sell and implement – IT and beyond – as organisation is still growing
  • Product can look extensive and perhaps complicated – turnkey non-IT applications/canned versions would be helpful
  • No turnkey Outside IT applications currently available
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Cherwell Service Management is primarily a mid-market solution with the ability to be scaled-up to enterprise class organisations.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell Software
Product Cherwell Service Management
Version reviewed 4.6
Date of version Release March 2014
Year Founded 2004
Customers 600+ ITSM customers worldwide.
Pricing Structure Fully inclusive concurrent user usage for both perpetual and SaaS licensing models.
Competitive Differentiators
  • Codeless, flexible and fully configurable
  • Ability to design and build to specific business requirements – or use ‘out-of-the-box’
  • Cherwell Service Management is a useful enabling toolset to support IT and business transformation due to the ease of use and flexible nature of the product

Independent Review

Cherwell is emerging as a leader in the service management and extended shared services markets due to the scope and quality of its product, its focus on business value and its quality approach to implementation.

In The ITSM Review’s opinion, Cherwell is particularly appropriate for medium-to-large sized organisations. Whilst it does have very large (enterprise) clients, its own focus and organisation better fits the medium-large sized demographic. The product has extensive flexibility and capability, and can be developed for large or very large organisations use as required.

Marketing and messaging is focussed on speaking directly to IT and ITSM organisations, providing them with the opportunity to improve their service and provide value to their own customers. We view this as a positive, although we do believe that there is a need to develop more specific and targeted non-IT turnkey solutions in conjunction with associated marketing approaches that may be sold beyond IT.

Cherwell is set on selling to IT people and letting them sell-on the product to other areas of the business, which seems to work well, however we do feel that this may need to become a more proactive channel in order to compete with other Enterprise Service Management (ESM) solutions in the market.

Product

In The ITSM Review’s opinion Cherwell offers a strong mix of product capability, and its ease of use and non-technical capability of the product should be well supported by (IT) customers – thus easy to sell-on within organisations.

The simple and inclusive upgrade path also works well as a positive alternative to legacy and large enterprise solutions where bespoke product development can add risk, cost and delay to upgrading. Cherwell have a model which provides a secure technical framework that clients can work within to build their own solutions and which is then protected as part of the upgrade path.

Marketing

The vendors’ organisation and approach is focussed on promoting and supporting IT as an enabler and driver for business success. Cherwell take a pragmatic approach to this, depending on the maturity and needs of the client as identified during the sales process.

In terms of industry and media messaging, we feel that Cherwell has adopted a positive and engaging set of value propositions around traditional values, people and customer experience. The focus on traditional values is centred around the need for back to basics implementations, focussed on customer needs, simple ITSM concepts and the need to engage with people – i.e. Cherwell push out the message that the product is not the answer to everything.

Sales Strategy

Cherwell has had to work to improve its brand visibility over the last few years and is now well placed and recognised in the ITSM market place. Approach to sales is seen to be positive, professional and consultative, developing dialogue where possible to engage and provide prospects with confidence in the product and company.

In our view, Cherwell will need to maintain focus on where to sell and implement IT, and beyond, as the organisation is still growing.

Current Use

Examples of current customers using Cherwell Service Management outside of IT include implementations in HR, Finance, Legal, and Sales and Marketing.

In Summary

We feel that Cherwell Service Manager is a good option to consider for those medium-to-large organisations looking to develop their service management practices starting from their existing ITSM implementation. The product is simple to develop and configure as a business application so should have a fast time-to-value. Our only reservation would be around the need for turnkey non-IT applications to be provided in order to further provide timesaving solutions for IT and non-IT clients.

In The ITSM Review’s opinion, in the future Cherwell needs to consider where to focus its sales and messaging for implementation – i.e. marketing/selling solely to IT organisations or engaging with other business areas. As the organisation is still growing it needs to ensure that it does not spread its resources too thinly, as otherwise it risks losing focus on key markets. The approach to let IT customers ‘sell-on’ is laudable, although this may need to be strengthened with more turnkey offerings in order to compete and provide clear differentiators.

In Their Own Words

“Cherwell Software is one of the fastest growing IT service management software providers. It began with simple goals: to make service desk software it would want to use and to do business honestly, putting customers first. Cherwell Software is passionate about customer care and is dedicated to creating “innovative technology built upon yesterday values.”

Cherwell Software is one of the fastest growing IT service management software providers with corporate headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO, U.S.A. and EMEA headquarters in Swindon, U.K. A global team of dedicated employees and expert partners who appreciate the technology – but love customers – serve in North America, South America, Asia and Australia. Cherwell Software recently received the SDI Best Vendor of the Year award.

Cherwell’s flagship product, Cherwell Service ManagementTM, delivers an innovative, award-winning and holistic approach to service management, allowing IT and support departments to align with organisation strategy and to deliver maximum IT business value. Cherwell Service Management is the affordable, easy-to-use, ITSM suite with maximum portability. With Cherwell ChoiceTM concurrent licensing and flexible hosting model, you can choose what works best for your business — SaaS or purchase, and hosted on-premises, hosted by Cherwell or hosted by a third party.”

To download the full report as a PDF please visit : http://download.itassetmanagement.net/outside-it/

Jarod Greene, Gartner "The players haven’t changed, but the game has"

Who will be the winners and losers in the new Gartner Quadrant to define the ITSM market?
Who will be the winners and losers in the new Gartner Quadrant to define the ITSM market?

This interview has been contributed by Aprill Allen of Knowledgebird.

If your helpdesk experience is anything like mine was, you’ve been taking calls and tracking tickets in whatever software solution the decision makers handed down. So, when I first heard my experienced ITSM colleagues discussing the Gartner Magic Quadrant, I wondered what they were on about (Let’s just call it the MQ). 

Was it just some analytical mumbo-jumbo, or does it mean something to those of us who might still be in operational roles, today? When I met Gartner’s Jarod Greene at Knowledge12, he seemed like a nice enough guy, so I thought I’d throw a few questions his way for enlightenment.

Can you tell us about your role as Research Analyst at Gartner—what that involves and the career experience that lead you there?

I have been with Gartner for 8 years. I took a rather unconventional path to becoming an Analyst. I came to Gartner in 2004 with the end goal of becoming an Analyst at some point in the future. I started off working in Gartner’s customer support organization as Research Engagement Specialist, which positioned me directly between our customers and our research deliverables. My job was to properly align Gartner clients to the most appropriate analysts based on their needs, which required a deep understanding of the IT Operations Management market.

I used the tools at my disposal to learn the space from the inside out and identify trends. I would dissect client questions, probe vendors for details and reference materials, and listen in on analyst inquiries. I was learning IT operations from the most knowledgeable and influential minds in the industry. I made my analyst aspirations known to the analysts I supported who became my mentors with no hesitation. Specifically David Coyle and the late Kris Brittain served as my official mentors, but anytime I had a question I had places to go to get answers. For 3 years I played a de-facto duty analyst role, writing research and taking basic inquiries and continuing to working closely with our IT operations management analysts. I joined the team officially as a Research Analyst in February of 2011. It’s been quite the ride ever since!

I worked in operations for close to 15 years, and so much has changed, but so much has stayed the same. How have you seen the IT Ops sector change over the years?

In my 6 years of observing this space, I’ve found that we are still facing the same challenges associated with doing more with less and meeting the needs of the business at a competitive price. The difference is that it has been difficult for IT organizations to keep pace with the rate and pace of technology change they acquire to gain efficiencies.

These tools often introduce their own set of challenges, which compounds the issue! For example, when I began supporting IT Operations management, CMDB was the hottest topic on the planet. Organizations literally could not spell it CMDB right, but knew an IT service view CMDB would be their salvation and cure all organizational ails.  Well, here we stand and we still don’t see as many in production as expected, and it still remains one of the most daunting challenges in IT. I see the same cycle with IT Service Catalog today – great value proposition (and ITIL says you need one), but it introduces challenges and requires a maturity level and resources that the vast majority of organizations do not have.

I’ve asked you to take part in this interview, so I could find out more about the Magic Quadrant. What is the MQ and how does it apply to people working in the IT Operations sector?

Ah, the million dollar question! Essentially the end user organizations looking at a Magic Quadrant should understand that is a visual snapshot of a market’s direction, maturity, and participants. It is designed to help organizations choose a product or service, but only if that organization properly understands the methodology.

The biggest misconception of an MQ is that it should be used as a vendor selection tool. That is not the case. It should help an organization analyze a market and help to focus their search on important criteria. MQ’s do not provide the details needed during the vendor selection process to align YOUR requirements to a vendor. This leaves the onus on the organization to make best vendor selection based on their specific set of requirements. Often making a vendor selection based on MQ positioning can be disastrous, as I’ve seen many times over the years.

What’s involved from the analyst perspective in putting the document together, and what input did you have, personally?

Jeff Brooks and I first have to identify a distinct and viable market.  2 years ago, Gartner retired the IT Service Desk MQ for a variety of reasons. Most significantly was the fact that the IT service desk market was very mature and well established, with low barriers to entry and little consolidation. MQ’s are for the middle phases of a market life cycle, so as a market begins declining, an MQ is no longer an appropriate methodology. Furthermore, the concept of purchasing a standalone IT service desk tool for ticking and reporting was all but gone.

IT service desk tool requirements (for organizations of all sizes) include modules that were pieces of a much larger IT service support strategy consisting of change, release, service request, and service level management, along with data center management components such as asset management, CMDB, and service Catalog. The personal input I have is in recognizing these changing dynamics and “creating” the market I’m set to analyze. The goal is to put forth an analysis that provides insights to help clients with planning and evaluating tools that fit common requirements.

From what I’ve heard, it’s a fairly rigorous exercise for the vendors aiming for inclusion in the document. What does Gartner look for from a vendor for consideration?

The biggest challenge with the document is setting the inclusion criteria. It is just not possible to include every vendor in the market, so you must focus your analysis on vendors we consider to be the most important best suited to our clients’ needs. When you set the inclusion criteria, you define what it takes to me considered for this market. It does not imply that a vendor is not viable or competitive; it just means a vendor may have a slightly different strategy or functional match, or it addressed a different target market. As Jeff and I research the market through various activities (client inquiries, vendor briefings, vendor provided-references, public sources, industry contacts, etc) we develop and understanding of vendors we believe meet the inclusion criteria, but also reach out through the community to see if we have missed someone.

This is where vendor briefings can be important – Gartner cannot get you on their radar if they don’t know you exist. Every vendor usually wants to be considered, but the criterion determines whether or not they will be evaluated. ITSSM annual license revenue for example may exclude a vendor from evaluation if they do not meet the pre-defined threshold. In some cases, being on a MQ can be a bad thing for a vendor if they do not have the resources to execute on increased demand.  There are cases where vendors have been on MQ’s one year, and insolvent shortly thereafter.

The MQ is a bit of a hot-button topic out there in the community of ITSM vendors and consultants, and it seems to becoming an almost lofty goal for those vendors serving the small to medium enterprises (SMEs). In my view, every vendor (of ANY software solution) should be aiming for a consistent ability to execute and a completeness of vision, anyway, but is it really how a recent CIO article explained—are the MQ authors limited to highlighting those vendors who focus on large enterprises?

I loved Richard’s article– very timely! As he pointed out, the majority of Gartner clients are enterprise organizations. 76% of the Global 500 support their decisions with Gartner advice, and we have over 12,000 customers worldwide, the majority of which are larger organizations. Speaking only to ITSM toolsets, larger organizations typically have a much more robust set of requirements than SMB clients.

An organization that needs to manage multiple service levels in multiple geographies in multiple languages may narrow their focus to vendors who can demonstrate this scalability consistently. For an SMB customer who has simpler requirements, it may not make sense to choose the vendor who demonstrates scalability that is not 100% pertinent to their needs. I also think every vendor, regardless of whether or not they are in an MQ should strive to execute on their vision of the market. They should also understand that Gartner will question a vendor’s execution capabilities and may not agree with that vendor’s vision of the market, and that’s fine, because ultimately the IT organization has to make the decision on which tool is most appropriate, given their requirements, not Gartner’s. If your requirements are fairly common, then it may make your evaluation process easier. However it’s not a given that choosing a tool in the leader quadrant means your organization improves processes and services automatically.

I was too far down the food chain to be involved in any tool selection process, but I can tell you, in the last operational role I had (at a small financial institution) the data centre manager googled helpdesk software and chose the local product. What practical advice can you give IT managers about to embark on the tool selection process?

I’m not 100% against that approach!! The standalone IT service desk tools I mentioned before are commodities- you can get ticketing and reporting from just about anyone. The web can be a great start to your market analysis, but at some point you will need to rely on the guidance of a trusted advisor. My market analysis is based on over one thousands of end user inquiries per year. I validate vendor claims against customer references and I review a vendor’s ability to document and commit to development roadmaps. I have no agenda or any bias towards any one particular vendor. I can be one of your trusted advisors!

I can help you navigate this market, but I’m not naive enough to believe you cannot gain value in peer communities, particularly with users who live and breathe these tools on a day to day basis. There is a lot of good information out there, but I think it’s important to always understand who exactly is providing this information, what is their agenda for providing information, and what can you validate their information against.In terms of advice for IT managers set to embark on a tool selection process, I say purchase with your stomach, and not your eyes.

We find that organizations replace ITSM toolsets every 5 years, a trend our friend Karen Ferris calls “IT groundhog day” (I love that btw). That’s crazy when you think about it. There is a lot of conspicuous consumption in ITSM – meaning they think they are what they buy. IT managers buy what they think the mature shops use, as if the tool was the only thing that enabled them to be mature. The purchase of an IT service desk or ITSSM tool suite is often the first step in an organization gaining visibility and managing their infrastructure environment, and organizations believe that within a reasonable timeframe they will gain the process maturity necessary to implement industry best practices, mature and integrate processes, and integrate other systems management tools.  This does not happen automatically. There is a considerable amount of effort required to mature across people, process, business management, and technology dimensions, and often that work is discounted.

No tool, in itself, will make you a mature shop – so first develop an IT roadmap to maturity and align your tool purchase accordingly. If you are a reactive, fire fighting organization with ad hoc processes and low customer confidence, start with point, basic IT service desk ticketing tools that come at a relatively low cost and do not require professional services.  If you are on the path to higher levels of maturity, consider the ITSSM tools across both licensing models so that you have the capabilities you need when you are ready to use them. If you already are a mature shop, it’s very unlikely you are looking to replace your IT service desk tool, but consider tools that allow you to stay the course of continual service improvement and easily integrate with other systems management tools.

The next IT Service Support Management (ITSSM) Magic quadrant is coming next quarter, can you tell us if the formula may have changed from previous MQs and, without giving away any spoilers, if there are any new entries or surprises?

We are in the final stretch and I’m confident we will be done soon. The formula has changed considerably- keep in mind this is a new market, so it’s a new MQ. The players haven’t changed, but the game has. Yes, IT service desk (incident, problem, change, self service, knowledge, and reporting) is a component of the offering evaluated, but new to our analysis are release governance and SLA management (with regard to incident and service request management). We also wanted all vendors to offer qualifying products licensed in BOTH the perpetual and software as a service licensing models. This is becoming a requirement for customers who want the short term benefits of SaaS and the long term benefits of an on premise solution. Lastly, we wanted next generation support capabilities that offered usage of the product for mobile devices, social and collaboration capabilities, richer information analytics, and the ability to visually map an IT service view to support the incident, problem, and change management processes (so not quite CMDB, but providing similar visualization benefits).

We believe these are critical capabilities to meet the demands of the modern workforce. I don’t know how to describe the MQ without giving any spoilers away! There are some vendors who you did not see on the IT Service Desk MQ, but again, this is a new analysis. As per usual, where the dots are will be fiercely debated, but it may be more interesting to note where you don’t see dots.

Thanks, Jarod, for taking the time to answer the hefty questions. I look forward to some lively debate when the new analysis is released.

This interview has been contributed by Aprill Allen of Knowledgebird.

Winners and Losers in the ITSM Premier League

Six leading ITSM vendors went head to head this week at the itSMF UK Tools forum. The free event was held at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, home of the 2012 premier league winners Manchester City.

This was openly promoted as a tool focused event. A perfect opportunity for some of the leading lights of the industry to showcase their technology and highlight their competitive differentiators.

An opportunity to shine?

It’s a tough, competitive market out there. Differentiate or die.

I was eager to find out which vendors could articulate their unique qualities, who could position themselves in the market? Could they inspire confidence in buyers? Would buyers be safe in their hands?

The result? In my opinion – Delegates experienced the full spectrum from cutting edge to dull as dishwater:


Roy IllsleyOvum (6/10)

Roy gave us an interesting, thought provoking presentation. The content seemed to be a bit out of place for the theme of the day but otherwise it was great talk and I look forward to delving into the slide deck when it becomes available (Applying Lean principles to IT Strategy).

Patrick BolgerHornbill (9/10)

You can tell why Patrick has ‘Evangelist’ in his job title. Patrick gave us an inspirational pitch for not only his company but also the industry as a whole. If all Hornbill customers have the same software installed and the same ITIL training – how is it that they experience vastly different results? Patrick argued that it is because of the people. Hornbill believes in putting their successful customers on a pedestal when positioning their solution. Nice job Patrick.

Tony Bambury, FrontRange (1/10)

Tony provided us a live demo of their SaaS solution and ran through a user ordering an iPhone. I struggled to see how FrontRange differed from the rest of the pack. An opportunity missed.

Kevin Parker, Tom Burnell and James Warriner from Serena (8/10)

Serena have some closet amateur dramatics buffs in their midst. Serena declared an end to dull PowerPoint pitches and provided a refreshingly different demonstration of their technology. We were entertained by means of a reenactment of one of their ‘Doug Serena’ episodes.  For me, it would have been the presentation of the day – but unfortunately it was difficult to hear their presentation and the ‘actors’ were not always visible, so we lost the thread at times. Otherwise – an excellent slot by Serena and they should be congratulated for their effort, preparation and originality (the product looked good too!).

Dave D’Agostino from ServiceNow (5/10)

Dave gave a safe and steady presentation on ‘SaaS driving forces’ and positioned ServiceNow as a cloud platform rather than pure ITSM focused tool. I’m personally not convinced that the market needs telling the advantages of cloud anymore and I would welcome some more pragmatic advice about shifting services to the cloud. E.g. if you are in this particular industry facing abc market forces and xyz legislation this is what similar customers achieved. Perhaps it’s time to move the conversation on from ‘You don’t need to buy servers!’.

I also thought Dave’s ROI model of on premise versus cloud looked a bit shaky, given the likely implementation / customization costs of ServiceNow over a 3 year period – I would welcome some independent industry statistics on this.

Don Page, Marval (4/10)

I tuned out for Don’s session. It was entertaining but a bit of a rant. If I were a prospect for a new ITSM tool provider I would be left with the impression that Don is a great guy and unique personality, but I would be a bit lost if you asked me to remember the redeeming features of his solution, apart from ‘Buy British’.

Tony Probert, Cherwell (7/10)

Tony set out the stall for Cherwell in his no-nonsense forthright style. Tony urged us to think about business services over support and that if we were doing break-fix for a living we were ripe for outsourcing.

He openly stated that most of Cherwell’s features were ‘just like everyone else’ but then managed to clearly articulate their competitive differentiators:

  1. Code-less configuration
  2. Autonomy from Cherwell (not dependent on consultancy and feature lock down)
  3. and seamless upgrades despite customization.

Three bullets to separate Cherwell from the competition and an attractive proposition for those migrating from on-premise tools. That one slide was a refreshing change to the others of the day who struggled to articulate their competitive differentiators.


Same again next year?

Like the SDI tools day, this is a great format by the itSMF and I hope they repeat it again soon. As with regionals – perhaps some real life user feedback could be shoehorned into the day. Further upcoming itSMF events can be found here.

Great seminar location: The view from the 'Legends' lounge at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

The ITSM Tool Pricing Ouch-O-Meter

Click to Enlarge

One thing that has surprised me during my initial exploration of ITSM tools is the simplicity of some SaaS based pricing models.

Software licensing options offer vendors the ability to flex their competitive muscles, adapt their solutions to different customers and maximize revenue.

Microsoft is particularly good at this, if you are a left-handed student living in Outer Mongolia – Microsoft has a SKU code with your name on it! To the other extreme, Salesforce.com licensing is remarkably straight forward, if you have fifty users and you want Enterprise Edition – everyone must be on Enterprise Edition.

The counter to this simplicity is that customers might end up paying for development of software that they don’t use, but I think this is easily outweighed by simplicity and predictability. No hidden surprises and endless fiddling about with licensing scenarios.

Moreover, for a SaaS based subscription model it is in the interests of the vendor to ensure you are a happy customer, rather than the vendor constantly trying to sell the next upgrade or option. Vendors are more interested in longevity and retention over winning the big deal, in theory at least.

The KISS Principle

I was pleasantly surprised to see some SaaS based ITSM vendors offering one simple price per user per year. For everything. I’m not the sharpest tool in the box so I’m all for keeping things simple when the opportunity presents itself. KISS.

Being this crystal clear over licensing represents a significant paradigm shift for some traditional ITSM tool vendors. It is difficult to wean yourself from high margin professional services revenue when you have grown used to it – how will that revenue be replaced if we simplify everything for our customers? Similarly some vendors position relatively low cost ITSM tools specifically to generate new business for their consulting business.

Eyes Wide Open

I believe pricing simplicity should be a serious consideration when choosing a tool vendor. I have compiled a quick pricing ‘Ouch-O-Meter’ to help during the tool selection process. Click on the image above to enlarge it.

I’m not saying that SaaS is the only way to go, nor am I anti-consultant (being one myself) – I just like the simplicity of the licensing model. I believe how things are priced moving forward should be a serious consideration when exploring a new vendor relationship, there is nothing worse when securing a great deal than to find the hidden extras.

Am I entering into an ‘all you can eat’ license or a ‘We’re going to nickel-and-dime you every time you breath’ relationship?

Have I missed anything here? What else should be considered when it comes to vendor pricing?