In order for any “As A Service” offering to be successful, the provider of the service must be able to demonstrate that they are adding value for the recurring fees they charge. It is a matter of a fair value exchange. If the perception is that the value being provided is not equal-to or greater-than what is being paid, customers will ultimately find another providers, or other ways to meet their needs.
That brings me to my LaaS (Landscape as a Service) situation.
For several years, I have had a landscaping service provider taking care of my small lawn, and dealing with the spring and fall cleanups. To start, they charged a monthly fee, but every few months there was a new charge for fertilizer, aeration, or grub control. These unexpected fees increased the monthly cost and affected my landscaping budget “line item.”
After last fall, I approached my landscaper and said that I was sick of the unexpected fees, and wanted a fixed monthly cost that spread the payments out over twelve months. We came to an agreement—the total of the monthly cost was a little less than what I spent, in total, with them the previous year—with the promise of a reliable service at a reasonable cost. This appeared to be a fair value exchange.
About seven months into my LaaS arrangement, things were not working.
The lawn was mowed only when it needed it, not every week as it was in past. I couldn’t really tell when (or if!) the fertilizer and grub control was applied, or if the entire lawn was being aerated. This led me to question the value exchange that underpinned the service.
I let the service run for the rest of the year, as we had agreed, but gave my LaaS provider written notice of termination of their services a few weeks ago. Spring has finally sprung in New England and the grass is growing.
As a leader of an organization that provides managed security and network services, I am constantly aware that we must actively manage the value exchange with our clients if we expect to make the relationship mutually beneficial.
To demonstrate the value of our offerings, we continually seek to provide greater visibility to our clients into the service that is being provided. We leverage analytics and BI tools to mine the massive amounts of data our tools collect, to provide our clients with better insights into what is taking place on their networks, and to help them to visualize the value that our service offers.
My lawn needs some attention this week after the spring rain and some recent warm weather. Do I find another LaaS provider or do I do it myself? I need to make a quick decision. I think, for now, I will take this project on myself.
But, this decision comes at a cost. For starters, I now have to buy (at minimum) a lawnmower and a weed whacker. And I will have to deal with a few additional trips to the local home improvement store. I might also miss out on a few of my daughters’ events and activities because I’ve got limited time on the weekends to get everything done.
I’ll give it a shot, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if my next article is something like, “How I Evaluated and Selected a New LaaS Provider.”