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.
I'm excited that I'll be spending time with Forrester clients next week at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum 2012 East. On the second day of the forum (Wednesday, June 27th), there are two industry presentations of particular interest to healthcare industry executives:
"Where to get help for interactive design projects in Europe?" That's the question I want to answer for customer experience professionals in my next research. To do that, I'm inviting all interactive design agencies in Europe to help me. Would you like to be included in a report that will help Forrester clients with their interactive agency selection process? If the answer is yes, please complete this 15-minute survey at:
The survey is designed to gather data from European firms that have significant experience in designing and developing digital experiences (web, mobile, etc.). Survey questions cover interactive agency size, practice areas, industry expertise, locations, and a range of costs for typical engagements. If you know any agencies that should be included in my report, please forward the survey link to them or show them this blog post.
If you have questions, please send me an email: jbrowne at forrester dot com.
[16/Feb/2011]: Some people asked to see the questions before going through the survey online. That's a fair request, so I've uploaded a PDF of the survey to this page:
I'm pleased to announce that "The Forrester Wave™: UK Interactive Agencies — Web Design Capabilities, Q1 2010", is now available to Forrester clients on the Forrester Web site.
This report is an evaluation of the Web design capabilities of leading UK design agencies: AKQA, Amaze, Detica, EMC Consulting, LBi, Reading Room, Sapient Interactive, VML London, and Wunderman. Putting this together took six months of effort by a hard-working team that included Harley Manning, Angela Beckers, Richard Gans, William Chu and Shelby Catino.
In our research, we found that Detica and Sapient Interactive led the pack for transaction-led projects, due in large part to the high usability scores earned by the client reference sites they provided for evaluation. AKQA, EMC Consulting, LBi, Reading Room, and Wunderman were Strong Performers for transaction-led projects, with AKQA's exemplary Brand Image Review scores moving it into the Leaders' circle for image-led projects. Rounding out the field, Amaze showed strength in multilingual projects and image-led projects, while VML London earned top scores from both reference clients for the business results it produced. Both agencies came in as Contenders.
All nine vendors in this report have significant market presence and capabilities to service large clients. They are all ranked in the top 25 UK agencies by fee revenue (using data published by New Media Age).
What sets the Wave apart from other industry rankings and awards is the transparent, fact-based evaluation that underpins it. Forrester clients have the ability to look at detailed vendor scorecards and see what the strengths and weaknesses of each agency are.
To gather information on the strength of each vendor's current offering (represented on the vertical axis) and strategy (represented on the horizontal axis), we used the following methods: