The Forrester Wave Methodology


For information about citations, access the Forrester Wave™ Citation Guidelines.

Executive Summary

The Forrester Wave™ is a guide for buyers considering their purchasing options in a technology marketplace and is based on our analysis and opinion. To offer an equitable process for all participants, Forrester follows a publicly available methodology, which we apply consistently across all participating vendors. Sometimes, vendors decide not to participate in the formal Forrester Wave evaluation process. In these instances, Forrester evaluates the vendor according to The Forrester Wave™ Vendor Participation Policy.

The Forrester Wave uses a transparent methodology to compare the players in a software, hardware, or services market so our clients can make well-informed purchasing decisions. The Forrester Wave offers two major benefits to clients: our detailed analysis of vendors’ products and services, based on transparent criteria, and an Excel spreadsheet that allows clients to easily compare products and develop custom shortlists according to their own requirements. We evaluate products that are generally available no later than the time of the Wave questionnaire due date.

In order to treat all vendors equally, a Forrester analyst will decline client engagement (e.g., inquiries, advisory, etc.) if the client is a vendor that the analyst is currently evaluating in a Wave, and if the engagement pertains to the same market. This policy applies from the Wave kick off through the publication date.

Participants In The Forrester Wave Process

A Forrester Wave builds upon the participation of these key players:

  • Analyst. The analyst is the content expert for the research. The analyst determines the inclusion criteria, the evaluation criteria, and the scoring framework, based on our methodology, and couples that with his or her knowledge of the marketplace and the needs of our clients.
  • Research director. The research director (RD) works closely with the analyst to develop the inclusion criteria, evaluation criteria, and scoring framework. The RD also reviews all scores and the vendor writeups.
  • Project manager. This project manager (PM) is responsible for creating and maintaining the project schedule and serves as the main Forrester contact for the vendors. This person may also participate in customer reference calls.
  • Vendor response team: Forrester relies on this team’s participation to provide feedback on the evaluation criteria, identify candidates for customer interviews, provide demos and briefings, and collect and verify the product and company information used in the evaluation.
  • Customer references: Forrester asks each vendor participant to provide customer references. Our research team contacts each of the references to schedule a brief call or complete a brief survey. Forrester asks the customers questions based on their experience with the service or product we are evaluating. We do not list or name customer references in the published materials unless this is specifically agreed upon prior to publication. While the Wave is in progress, Forrester views any vendor attempts to speak with references about their responses or ask them to revise their responses after a Wave interview as a violation of the Wave methodology. This may result in the vendor forfeiting part or all of the vendor review process.

The Forrester Wave Process Road Map: How Does It Work?

Preliminary Planning And Kickoff

In preparation for the evaluation, the research team:

  • Researches the category and define the scope. As part of the research, the analyst defines the scope of the category and identify the vendors in the space. Forrester reserves the right to remove a vendor from a Forrester Wave at any point in the process if we find it to be incompatible with the Forrester Wave objectives.
  • Drafts inclusion and evaluation criteria. Based on the scope of the Forrester Wave, the analyst creates the inclusion criteria that determines which vendors to include in the evaluation. The analyst also defines the criteria against which we will evaluate the product or service. We intend the criteria to be differentiating rather than exhaustive.
  • Invites vendors and shares key Wave materials. The research team invites vendors to participate in the Wave, shares reference materials, and outlines key deliverables.

Gathering Evaluation Data

For participating vendors, there are three inputs into a Forrester Wave evaluation: a questionnaire, a strategy and product demo session, and customer references. During this phase, the Forrester research team:

  • Distributes a questionnaire with the evaluation criteria. Forrester creates and distributes to the participating vendors a questionnaire that includes all the evaluation criteria and instructions about the types of information the analyst is looking for.
  • Holds executive strategy briefings and demonstrations. The vendors follow the criteria laid out in the questionnaire and, potentially, scenarios developed by Forrester to demonstrate the functionality of each product. During the evaluation, the Forrester team captures detailed notes and may record the presentation. Forrester does not provide a copy of the recording to participating vendors.
  • Interviews customer references. Forrester interviews or surveys the reference customers provided by the vendor. If necessary, the analyst also speaks with other customers about the vendor’s product. The goal is to verify the information given by the vendor collected during the briefing and demo session.

Scoring And Feedback

In this phase, the analyst creates scale explanations for each criterion. The analyst uses the information gathered during the evaluation to score each vendor against that scale and to weight criteria according to importance. We use those scores and weightings to produce the Forrester Wave graphic. We base Forrester Wave scoring on the data gathering process mentioned above, as well as analyst’s experience and expertise in the market. At this stage, participating vendors have the opportunity to provide feedback on their scores and writeup. See The Forrester Wave™ Vendor Review Policy for more detail.

After the scorecard and write-up are finalized, each vendor receives a copy of them. This is the last time that vendors see their scorecards before the Forrester Wave goes live on

Courtesy Preview And Publication

Prior to publication, Forrester provides a courtesy preview of the Forrester Wave document to evaluated vendors. This preview period typically occurs five days before publication, and Forrester does not accept any new information or escalation during this time. We consider the content of the Forrester Wave to be final at this point, although we reserve the right to make corrections until publication.

Changes During The Forrester Wave Process

  • In some cases, a vendor we’re evaluating makes a major change to its offering or strategy during the course of the evaluation. This may include a product announcement, a product enhancement, a merger or acquisition, a brand name change, or a divestiture. To ensure a fair and efficient evaluation process, Forrester presents each company or product as it is publicly represented at the time of the research kickoff.
  • Announcements that vendors share with Forrester after kickoff (such as during the briefing or demo) may inform our evaluation or the advice we provide to clients in our text summary of the product. We do not, however, guarantee that we will represent any changes taking place after the kickoff.
  • We allow for one exception: If vendor we’re evaluating completes an acquisition or merger with another vendor we’re evaluating, and the public acquisition announcement takes place during the evaluation period but before our courtesy preview, we will note it as a footnote on the Wave graphic and as an endnote in each company’s written review. We do not re-evaluate companies based on changes announced during the evaluation period.