ECM Price Lists: Why the Secrecy?

Yesterday morning I was reading through Oracle's recently updated price list (yes my Monday mornings really are that exciting).  I was thinking that I have long valued the fact that I can access simple, clear and open prices from major vendors like Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.  I might occasionally gasp at the prices listed, but there they are nevertheless in full view, accessible to anyone. So I give them an A+ for their "transparency". As for EMC, well even though they don't actually publish a list on their own website - accessing EMC list prices is as simple as an internet search and though the firm once (rather clumsily) tried to stamp this out via the use of lawyers, it seems that they now accept  this "translucent" approach, so I'll give a C grade to them. 

But what of the likes of Autonomy, Open Text and Alfresco?  They guard their pricing very closely and you only get to see it once you have actually engaged with them directly. For this "opaque" approach I give them a D-, and ask the question, what exactly are you trying so hard to hide?

The good news for buyers is that try as hard as they might, pricing information is available for all the above (and many other) vendors if you are prepared to dig for it. For example, many government departments have to publish the prices of software quoted in RFP responses or on generic procurement lists (such as the GSA in the US).  Buyers of ECM technology should always do their due diligence long before drawing up short lists, and ensure that they have some understanding of the costs involved, and how these compare against your budget. Reports such as our ECM product evaluations can also give you price guidance on what a typical deployment will cost, so there is no reason for you to enter a situation blind.

But it still bothers me when anybody tries to hide the price of a product.  I am one of those people (of Scottish and Yorkshire ancestry) who will never ask to see anything in a shop if the price has been hidden. If there is going to be pain involved in the purchase, I would like to prepare for that upfront, and not have to take it on the chin after a lot of spiel and arm twisting, departing with the feeling I may have been stung.



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