Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What to ask before you do Cloud Computing?


1. Have You Prevented Against "Sticker Shock" Down the Road?

One of SaaS's biggest selling points is its simplified pricing model: those pay-as-you-go, per-user monthly fees. The term "flat" usually stars in a SaaS vendor's marketing materials.

However, companies are still confused by uncertainties in pricing models and contract agreements, note Forrester analysts William Band and Peter Marston in the May 2008 "Best Practices: The Smart Way To Implement CRM" report. (For more on rolling out SaaS CRM, see "Five Best Practices for Implementing SaaS CRM.")

"SaaS pricing models that seem simple and inexpensive (flat per-user monthly fees) can become costly and complex when users sign up for different pieces of functionality and support options," the analysts write. "Additional charges often apply for support, configuration services, additional functionality or going beyond a preset storage limit."

In addition, business users and IT staffers can also be "unpleasantly surprised by difficult-to-enforce service-level agreements or onerous provisions that kick-in at the end of the contract term," Band and Marston note.

2. Has IT Been Included in the Decision-Making Process?

It almost seems apocryphal that IT staffers wouldn't be included at all in today's SaaS decision-making processes. But the reality is that business stakeholders have become quite adept at navigating the software purchasing world: they know what they want and SaaS vendors oftentimes go straight for the business side to sell their wares.

"SaaS makes it easy for firms to roll out solutions quickly and without IT involvement," notes an April 2008 Forrester report, "SaaS Clients Face Growing Complexity."

There's a downside, however, to the business side's new freedom. "This can also mean that firms rush into their deployment, using the point-and-click wizards to configure the solution without having a long-term vision or specific road map in place," write Forrester analysts Liz Herbert and Bill Martorelli.


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