Are Features King When Buying An IT Management Tool?

Oct 17, 2010 12:23:27 PM

When you are looking at buying a new IT Management tool, do you put most of your emphasis on features, with only some consideration to cost to acquire?  What about the effort to deploy and operate?  You may only spend a few weeks or months doing the initial deployment, but you will have to administer the product for years.  How do you factor these other considerations against features?

The EMA Radar Reports have set features and architecture against cost, deployment effort, and ongoing administration.  Features and architecture together become the Product Strength. Cost to acquire, setup, and administer together become Cost Efficiency. Product Strength and Cost Efficiency are treated somewhat equally. You can learn more about the EMA Radar Report here.

I believe that too many times features are given all the attention, then purchase price.  For some, little or no thought is put into the effort to train staff, setup and config the product, and keep it running in an IT environment that will keep changing all around the tool.  You have a problem to solve, and need certain features.  They are important. However, for many types of IT management tools, the features checklist is will represented in many competitive products. Features are not always the differentiator you might think they are. How things are done might vary, but the basic tasks generally exist in many products.

The bigger differentiator may be how well a given product fits in your current environment and how it integrates with your other tools. This can have a huge effect on TCO (total cost of ownership). You pay the purchase price once, with ongoing maintenance costs based on that price.  But you will pay with your staff time for months, in some cases, to turn shelfware into useful software.  And you will have to keep paying with people time to keep the software configured for your environment and monitor the output from the tool to get value from it.

I think ongoing administration costs as well as purchase price, maintenance costs, and setup and training time are just as important as the features of the product when choosing a new IT management tool. Features are important, but they are not King in my view. What do you think?

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Dan Twing

Written by Dan Twing

As President and Chief Operating Officer of Enterprise Management Associates, Dan is responsible for developing and executing strategic market research, delivering value to IT organizations through consulting engagements, and directing product developments and marketing efforts. Dan joined EMA in 2005 and has over 20 years of experience in information systems, software development, and technology outsourcing. Dan focuses on all aspects of intelligent and automated management of IT.

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