A key part of any contract negotiations is nailing down the Service Level Agreement's (sea's). Yet most buyers of analytics tools, Marketers now, in my experience don't pay too much attention to this important element.
You are going to shell out a hundred thousand dollars for a base configuration of the web analytics tool, and you'll have to pile on a bunch more rupees / pounds / pesos / dinars if you want to warehouse and intelligence add-ons and so on and so forth.
What you buy has a implication on the contract amount, but what you might not quite be aware of is that the SLA's you require / demand will inflate the yearly contract by substantial amounts (and to some extent that is not the Vendor's "fault", they price certain standard components / SLA's into their base pricing and anything you want beyond that obviously costs them more to provide).
It is critical that you as purchasers of the tool think through what you need and then ensure that during contract negotiations you ask for what you need (and price it out).
Don't have a handy check list of things to think about? For the second time in a four months friend of the blog Steve Medcraft to the rescue.
What follows is a list that Steve created for vendor negotiations after running his own pilot process with two top vendors. I think he did a fantastic job in covering pretty much everything anyone could possibly as for.
It is likely that you won't ask for all this but I believe that you'll find this list handy as you great ready for your own contract negotiations…..
Web Analytics Vendor Service Level Agreements Checklist:
* Availability and Response of software/functionality
+ Standard availability / guaranteed up time
+ Speed of service – e.g. screens to be returned in x seconds (probably tricky to enforce as depends on bandwidth)
+ Response of service in relation to unexpected increase to load/traffic volume, load distribution etc
+ Permitted downtime (emergencies etc.)
+ Compensation for downtime – service credits, reduced contract period etc. for x mins of downtime per month (outside of planned or emergency maintenance etc)
* Availability of reports/data
+ Collected data to be reflected in reports within x hours
+ Availability of results after initiating query
* Technical / Best Practice Support
+ Vendor resources available / dedicated to us (no of account managers, technical, consultants etc. assigned/dedicated to project)
+ Response to customization/change requests (quotation, delivery of service etc)
+ Response to traffic volume increase
+ Issue escalation procedures – (on-line, phone, email, priority levels, status reporting and response times)
+ Supporting material – availability of on-line help, accuracy of documentation, live support
+ Physical hosted environment, protection of data/servers
+ User access to the system, data
+ Back-up, archiving and recovery
+ Monitoring in place and availability of that data
+ Agreed points of contact (on either side)
+ Timings of notifications (planned maintenance/outage, status reports etc.)
Here is my recommendation of follow on tasks for you:
- It is likely that you don't care about all of the above, pick what you need.
- For each item you pick above identify the threshold (in terms of downtime or amount of best practice sharing hours or how quickly you want data or amount of email support you need etc).
- I highly recommend you identify a range for the threshold and not a absolute number, give your wiggle room. Share with your contract negotiators.
- Be explicit with the Vendor (it is the least you can do for them) and ask them to explicit you back. :)
- Get stuff written down, it would make a nice addendum to the standard contract the web metrics vendor will send to you.
- When deciding which tool to pick remember to judge based on features you want, size of the contract (total size of the contract), and, lots of people do this wrong, the amount of value you can provide your company from each.
Sometimes you might not pick the most feature rich vendor because you can't imagine that you can provide $1.2 million dollars of value back to your company (with that being the total size of the contract – tool + support + sla's).
You might go with the one that is $.05 million dollars even if it does not have that one niche feature you need.
The toughest thing you'll do is pick a web analytics vendor, and like the spouse you might pick in real life divorce is hard.
Besides if you are the one choosing a paid vendor with contracts then it might be hard for you to change your mind (easier for your successor though) and even then you are locked in for a year or two. Be patient and cover all your bases.
Here's a post from a while back (first time Steve helped us out) that I highly recommend:
I want to once again thank Steve profusely for sharing this hard work with us, I am confident we will all benefit from his generosity.
Ok now its your turn!
Please share your perspectives, critique, additions, subtractions, bouquets and brickbats via comments. Thank you.
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