ITSM software cost, ROI and consulting fees

Mar 14 2012

Software price vs professional services price?

Should the initial price of software be more or less than the price of professional services to support that software?

It's an interesting debate, and I'm sure it differs between industry and software genre.  My 20+ years involvement in the helpdesk software industry has lead me to the following observations...

The initial price point matters!

Businesses invest in HelpMaster because it has a lot of features, is well designed and is cost effective.  For businesses and organisations that are investing in service management software for the first time, they are naturally cautious and seek a high ratio of functionality-to-price.

Bang for buck in other words.

Top-tier service management and helpdesk tools are way over the top for many businesses that are starting their journey into ITSM and better customer service - even for huge multi-national companies.

Bloated feature sets, high-touch sales and premium (outdated) pricing and initial implementation and configuration fees are off-putting to many businesses that are simply looking to begin their ITSM initiatives with some core concepts of customer service and best-practice frameworks.

The reality is that some of the legacy vendors in the ITSM space are offering older technology and clunky user interfaces at a premium price.  They are selling yesterday's technology at tomorrow's promise.

An investment in growth and helpdesk efficiency

Investing in service management software says a lot about an organizations' committment to customer service.  

  • They want to improve.  
  • They want to provide service.
  • They have / want / need a process they adhere to.

They recognize the need to have a dedicated system to capture, control and provide service to their client.  They have identified needs and understand the value of logging, tracking and managing requests, incidents and other service management requests.  

This is a great sign of a progressive company and a healthy customer service environment.

Consider this

Should every ITSM vendor buy shares in their publicly-listed clients if they truly believe their software will generate positive ROI?  The corporate efficiency achieved by using a vendors' high ROI software should surely result in increased stock price...right?  Isn't that what the promised ROI and user satisfaction will do to a company's bottom line? 

Vendor spruke?  Obviously other factors come into play, but it's something to consider...

More than just helpdesk software

Once a business is formally logging tickets and has a structure in place....what's next?

Organizations that have started their customer improvement journey (not necessarily an ITSM journey) and invest in HelpMaster (or similar) quickly realize that the software enables them to do a lot more than just basic ticketing. 

They discover...

  1. Basic ticketing and full audit history of helpdesk requests
  2. Web self-service
  3. Email response management
  4. Knowledge base and knowledge centered support (KCS),
  5. ITIL and other best-practice frameworks for service delivery
  6. Statistical analysis
  7. Skillgroup partitioning and workload balancing,
  8. Automation of SLA's
  9. Customer acknowledgement, feedback and satisfaction surveys
  10. Timelines and operational hours of the busness
  11. Business processes
  12. ..and so much more

It creates an irresistable wave of process change and process improvement.  Not to mention client satisfaction and improved communication.

Cultural change

Businesses map business processes into software - this in turn drives business process. 

It's a circle - a good circle.

Whether it starts with the processes, or is driven by the software -  what does it matter?  Improvement takes place at the end of the day...right?  When a business invests in HelpMaster (or any ITSM / helpdesk software for that matter), sometimes they have their processes down cold.  Sometimes they don't. 

One thing is for sure though. 

After six months of logging jobs, creating workflow, running reports, and mandating staff to toe the corporate helpdesk line, every business that uses this style of software improves.

It's in the design - it can't help but happen!

....and that's why businesses are willing to invest in additional training, consulting and services from the vendor that brought them such a vehicle for improvement in the first place - even if such training cost more than the price per license of the initial purchase

The value is in the improvement, not just the software cost!

Smart businesses recognize the fact that if a vendor can produce software that can make such a dramatic improvement in their service delivery and customer relationship management, what else is possible with some consulting and training from that same vendor? 

Every ITSM / helpdesk software has its tips 'n tricks - it own special configuration gems.  The vendor has a unique vantage point of seeing hundreds, if not thousands of implementations of their software across may different environments.  Are you willing to tap into this knowledge?  Are you willing to pay for this knowledge?

A sound investment

Don't think of spending more money on consulting and services as spending more dollars on the software that you've already purchased.  Isolate software from the business processes and day-to-day workflow.   You have made a good decision on investing in software to compliment your business practices.  Now invest in consulting and training for your staff, your business and your processes to map these into your software.

Guaranteed you'll be pleasantly surprised at how far your consulting and training investment takes your business.

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