Software as a Service, often referred to as SaaS, is a modern-day equivalent of providing services to customers but without actually providing them with the software itself.

This is a common method of service delivery, and one which is generally priced very well by many of the players in the market.  It scales and benefits from having the software in a central location without the added overhead of having to manage software upgrades, bugs, fixes etc, whilst having a community of users to report problems.

We beta-tested the ManageWP SaaS which allows secure and centralised management of multiple WordPress sites.  Indeed, we also blogged about it a while back.  We contributed to the development cycle, posted in the forums and eagerly anticipated the formal release of this fabulous product – as we wanted to include it as a service for our WordPress customers.

Unfortunately, this has become a prime example of where overpricing SaaS has forced individuals and small businesses completely out of the market 🙁

ManageWP pre-release pricing

The pricing structure – which please remember is pre-release and not the price customers will pay from January onwards – is being discussed in detail on some of the ManageWP pages that have been published leading up to the release here and here.  Even with a 30% lifetime discount for beta-testers combined with either a 1 or 2 year subscription which then includes further discounts, it’s out of the reach of us, as we can’t – and won’t – pass on this sort of additional cost to our customers.

Take the following examples :

  • You’re an individual running between 5 and 10 WordPress sites for your friends and you’ve been using ManageWP as a beta-tester for a few months – it saves you time and allows you to update all the sites at once.  You’d like to take advantage of some, but not all the functionality, so you opt for the professional package.  Taking out a 2 year subscription with your 30% lifetime discount will still cost you $11.76 a month – but this must be paid as $282.24 in advance.  Oh – and they don’t accept Paypal yet, so you won’t be able to set up a subscription.
  • A small and growing business such as ourselves, you run and manage 80 WordPress instances for your customers.  You charge them between £50 and £75 a year for their domain name, hosting and management of their WordPress site.  For two years with all relevant discounts this would mean an additional cost of  $67.20 a month, which equates to $1612.80 payable in advance.

The numbers just don’t scale, there are no options to pay monthly, and it smacks very much of a company trying to immediately recoup their development costs, but this is almost certainly going to backfire because they will lose all the smaller customers that have already become used to using their software.  Those individuals or businesses will simply go back to doing it the manual way, or by using alternative plugins or services which are out there but admittedly not as clean, slick, or functional as ManageWP.

For us, it is a bitter disappointment, and the complaints from beta-testers are falling on the deaf ears of ManageWP.  We would have almost certainly become loyal and long-term users of this product and passed on the functionality and benefits to our customers.  But for the moment, we’ll be abstaining.  Or at least until the ManageWP team hopefully wake up and smell the coffee that is slowly being brewed by the hundreds of “fans” that had already been using their SaaS in a beta capacity.

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2 thoughts on “Software as a Service – ManageWP over-pricing

  • December 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm
    Permalink

    Hi!

    I’m James Mowery, CMO with ManageWP.

    I first want to say that we are sincerely sorry that you don’t agree with our current pricing model. We have strived to make ManageWP an incredibly high-quality product that our customers would and will continue to love, yet the time and expense that is put into developing a product such as this should absolutely not go without acknowledgment on your part.

    Creating and maintaing ManageWP requires a team of nearly a dozen engineers and dedicated staff. We also have to be prepared to upgrade ManageWP on a moment’s notice to adjust to changes with the WordPress platform, something is not as easy as it sounds. Finally, we provide the highest level of support to our customers, even going as far to help them setup, integrate, and manage ManageWP in the best ways possible. We go above what other companies do to ensure that our customers are treated like rock stars.

    And our customers and partners love us! We have incredible people who value our service in the highest regard, and they love it just as much as we love creating it. We are constantly receiving amazing feedback that reassures us of the hard work we have put into ManageWP. For example, we just received this appreciative email from Maeve Lander at Enigma Web Design & Development:

    Your product saves my firm many hours every week and is well worth the investment. I know how much time goes into developing and maintaining a product like this and feel the prices are extremely reasonable. So thank you for your excellent product, and congrats on the official launch. 🙂

    For those who do appreciate the time, effort, and quality that has gone into ManageWP, we are always there to service them with the highest level of support and interest! For those who are vocal about the prices, we are listening clearly. We are working on rewarding our customers with even more value in the future as we add even more amazing features that would cost customers, if they were to pay for these services individually, a substantial amount more than what price our services at, thus making ManageWP even more valuable for what it provides.

    We do appreciate that you care so strongly about ManageWP! That reaffirms how strongly our community feels about ManageWP. We invite anyone who wants to forever change how they manage WordPress to check us out! Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • December 8, 2011 at 3:40 pm
      Permalink

      Hi James and thanks for taking the time to comment in such depth.

      We certainly appreciate the development that has gone into ManageWP and are not disputing the quality of the product or that what the ManageWP team has achieved is nothing short of remarkable in such a short timeframe. However, we do concur with the now hundreds of users who have commented on the ManageWP website about the pricing, and we will remain believers in the fact that the smaller number of end-users have been out-priced – unless they are able in some way to either recoup or absorb the costs of ManageWP. This is something that we currently can’t do, and in todays market neither can many of our partners and competitors. Compared with other, but not equal types of software service pricing, ManageWP seems to be extortionately higher.

      If you focused some more on the lower-end, I’m sure that the end rewards would be fruitful as you start to attract many more smaller businesses and individuals. Please come up with a lower pricing structure – at least for < 100 sites – and perhaps even break them out into units of 5, as well as introducing some sort of monthly payment method – Paypal subscriptions would be perfect for this but there are other payment providers/solutions out there too that would be able to support regular payment schemes.

      Reply

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