In a recent post, I shot down the myth that you can predict the ratio between web content management license cost and implementation services. (You can read the post here, but the summary is: There is no standard ratio. Like snowflakes, every WCM implementation and digital experience project has its own unique … personality, and cost. It’s not only about the technology.)
But for any application development professional who sources and implements these systems and strategies, you (or your friends in marketing) will inevitably get put on the spot by the person holding the wallet. Their question, “What’s this going to cost us, all-in?” is hard to answer. And no exec wants to hear, “I don’t know.”
We can provide a recipe for turning this question in a productive discussion that lets budget holders understand the Great Unknowns that accompany digital projects.
Costs can balloon for many reasons on a WCM or DX project. Below are just a few reasons in the form of questions. Use them early on in the project/process to educate key stakeholders on the true costs of WCM- or digital-related work – the levers that get pushed and pulled, affecting cost, timeline, and outcomes. It may be your best defense when the money people start asking questions.
Who’s leading your WCM- or digital experience-related services? Will you spend internal IT staff time or money on external agency partners getting something built?
What’s the correct ratio of web content management software license price to implementation cost?
Clients frequently ask us some variation of the ratio question. As they try to do more with digital, they realize this stuff gets complex and costly pretty quickly.
The answer to their ratio question is: It depends. I can’t endorse a standard ratio of software to services because I don’t believe one exists. For very modest projects, might you expect to spend two dollars on services for every one dollar in software? It’s possible. But I’ve seen it more commonly grow to five-, six-, or ten-fold (occasionally more), as projects like these have long tentacles that reach beyond just software. The cost of software? That’s table stakes. WCM vendors may whisper sweet nothings in your ear about how easy it is to implement; I say ask someone who’s done it before with that product – and get them to be specific about ‘what’ was done as part of their project.
The more urgent question is whether you can keep your eye on the prize, focusing perceptions at your organization on the value of the total solution you’re trying to create. Although WCM technology may occupy the spotlight and serve as an integral part of the total solution, there’s usually a lot more to consider. The scope and cost estimate of your initiative may make executives’ eyebrows pop up. But what really should make their eyes pop is fairly assessing the opportunity cost of not tackling the initiative in a way that reflects the importance of the digital channel to your business.
We met with 30 Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals during an action session at Forrester’s Sourcing & Vendor Management Forum in Chicago to discuss how to improve governance for large implementation projects. Clients were looking for help across the sourcing life cycle – from determining who manages the RFP process, to determining scope with internal stakeholders, to driving governance after the contract is signed.
What tactics are Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals using to tackle these challenges?
1. Renegotiate rates with current players. Forrester’s recent survey found that 68% of organizations are renegotiating with their existing suppliers. One attendee said, “This has always been a priority, now we are bringing more efficiency and innovation to the process.”
2. Drive innovation from vendors. Everyone wants innovation from their suppliers but few receive it. Attendees shared tips for how they overcome major hurdles to achieving this in their supplier relationships:
a. Define what you mean by innovation. Many struggle to get innovation from their providers because they haven’t defined what that means — are you looking for idea-sharing or process improvements? Determine which type of innovation you need and communicate that to your vendor.
b. Identify metrics. “It’s not just how you measure innovation; it’s how you measure successful innovation.” Clients shared a variety of metrics such as:
i. Requiring the vendor to submit continuous improvement ideas they agree are impactful to your organization