Part 6 of the Purchasing Analyst Services series does not directly address buying, but what happens after the contract has been signed. By taking into consideration how you are going to drive usage of the services you buy, enterprise and vendor buyers of analyst services can feed that back into the purchasing process to ensure that you will get the right services from the right firms at the right price and maximize business value from the contracts.
One of the key purchasing mistakes buyers make is not examining past contracts and determining if the services were adequately used. While some larger clients of the analysts will survey users on whether the firms under contract had responsive client service, timely access to analysts, and maybe ask a subjective question about usefulness, they rarely evaluate usage patterns to see if seat holders actually use the services at an optimal level to get business value. If usage by particular seat holders is low, buyers need to reconsider whether or not these seat holders should receive seats at contract renewal time. One of the best ways to save money is to not buy services that do not get used.
In addition to analyzing usage patterns, analyst clients need to evaluate their training programs and their processes used to encourage usage of analyst services. Alas, the vast majority of analyst clients do not have formal training and ongoing usage monitoring programs. Because formal programs are not in place, it is difficult to increase usage of analyst services to ensure business value is achieved. If your company cannot put into place training and monitoring programs, then one way to save money on analyst contracts is to only buy services for those users who are motivated to using the analyst services under contract.
What constitutes acceptable usage? While it will vary from client to client, usage standards should be simple to measure. For example, one standard might be that Gartner Advisory seat holders conduct as least an average of three inquiries per month. An inquiry takes only a few minutes to set up and no more than 30 minutes on the phone with an analyst to accomplish. This goal is then only a commitment of less than two hours per month out of the 160 to 200 hours per month that the average professional works. There is an almost limitless number of inquiry topics and inquiries are easy to carry out (see our inquiry best practices posts) so there is really no excuse not to get maximize value out the Advisory seats.
Driving analyst usage is an especially important issue for technology vendors. Too many executives think that analyst contracts are simply bribes to get briefings and positive coverage. If it is determined that the vendor is not really using the purchased services then negative emotions will surface. By demonstrating to executives that the seats are actually being used, and true business value is being achieved, you may reduce some of the negative emotion around analyst contracts.
- Add usage evaluation into the analyst contract renewal process
- Develop an analyst service user training program that includes both basic training and short follow up sessions on usage habits and research consumer best practice tips
- Monitor services usage monthly to identify users that are not using the services
- Encourage underperforming users to pick up their usage
- Reassign seats from users who do not meet usage standards
Bottom Line: It is important to include information about usage into the analyst contract process. Services should only be purchased if they are going to be used.
Question: Analyst clients – Do you have a training and usage monitoring programs in place?
This post is one in a series on the SageCircle blog about how buyers of analysts service, whether enterprise IT or tech vendors, can ensure they are might the right purchasing decisions. For those analyst clients needing much more depth than what is in this blog series, please check out the SageCircle AR Wiki where you can find a lengthy thread of articles that provide more depth and breadth on this critical topic including checklists and tools.
- Using five rights to avoid a wrong when it comes to purchasing Gartner or Forrester services
- Right reasons – Evaluate why you are purchasing analyst services
- Right services – Align the services you buy to better match the reason for info or advice
- Right firms – Search out alternative services providers that better match your reasons
- Right price – Acquire those services that meet your basics requirements
- Right usage – Drive usage of the services you buy to ensure maximize business value