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Forrester (Nasdaq: FORR) is one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world. We work with business and technology leaders to develop customer-obsessed strategies that drive growth. Forrester’s unique insights are grounded in annual surveys of more than 500,000 consumers and business leaders worldwide, rigorous and objective methodologies, and the shared wisdom of our most innovative clients. Through proprietary research, data, custom consulting, exclusive executive peer groups, and events, the Forrester experience is about a singular and powerful purpose: to challenge the thinking of our clients to help them lead change in their organizations.

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The Forrester Wave™ Vendor Nonparticipation Policy

Executive Summary

Vendors are generally eager to participate in Forrester Wave evaluations — they are some of our most widely read documents and Forrester clients use these valuable reports to help inform their purchasing decisions. Occasionally, however, vendors that we choose to include in a Wave decline to actively participate in the process — the product evaluation, briefings, and customer reference checks. This report outlines the methodology Forrester uses to deal with those vendors.

The Nonparticipating Vendor Process

At the beginning of every Wave, Forrester reaches out to a limited number of vendors that are leaders in their space. We assemble this shortlist by crafting a transparent set of vendor inclusion criteria that are published with the final document. Vendors who meet the criteria are invited to participate. Usually, they are delighted to be included. However, sometimes a vendor may ask to be excluded from a Wave if, for example, the timing of the research or circumstances within the vendor organization makes participation difficult. When this occurs — that is, when a vendor declines to participate at the beginning of the Wave process — it needs to know the following important policies:

  • Nonparticipating vendors will still be included in our evaluation. We only invite leading vendors and emerging players to participate in Waves. For this reason, if an invited vendor decides not to participate when we kick off a project, we will still include them in the final report. We do this because a Wave without a leading provider would be an incomplete portrayal of the market and thus less valuable to our clients.
  • The Wave research will clearly state that the vendor did not undergo the same rigorous evaluation as its peers. The analyst will still evaluate a vendor that declines to participate in the Wave; that vendor's place on the iconic Wave graphic will be denoted by a gray bubble instead of a white one, indicating that the vendor did not participate in the research process (see Figure). Our report will state unequivocally that the company in question chose not to participate in the formal evaluation process and that our assessment is based on different inputs than those used for evaluating its peers. We will use public information and data gathered via briefings and independently sourced client interviews to make a call on the vendor's positioning on the graphic rather than via the usual process of reviewing references submitted to us by the vendor. Specifically, we will base the positioning of a nonparticipating vendor on the Wave diagram on our knowledge of its product, customers, market presence, and strategy.
    sample Forrester Wave
  • We will not include a detailed scorecard for the nonparticipating vendor. The detailed spreadsheet ("Wave model") that accompanies all Wave reports will only include information on participating vendors. We will not publicize or otherwise disclose the information used to place the nonparticipant on the graphic. We also will not publish or disclose a spreadsheet analysis ("vendor scorecard") of a nonparticipating vendor.
  • We will reach out to nonparticipants to schedule a detailed briefing. In an effort to inform our call on the market, Forrester will try to gain as much information about nonparticipating vendors as possible. If we cannot arrange such briefings with those vendors, we will conduct our research through secondary means.

Pulling Out Of A Wave

Occasionally, participating vendors do not agree with the results of a Wave and request to remove themselves from the evaluation. This is against Forrester Wave policy for a number of reasons:

  • When a vendor completes the Forrester Wave questionnaire, it confirms participation. Our Forrester Wave policy states that once vendors return the questionnaire to Forrester, they are locked in as participants.
  • Forrester Waves are inherently fair and transparent. At the beginning of each Forrester Wave, vendors are afforded the opportunity to review the criteria by which they are evaluated. They are then given several chances to fact-check their data and information.
  • Our first priority is to publish factually correct information. We go to great lengths to make sure that each Forrester Wave is completely accurate. We will address factual concerns at any part of the process. This is paramount — our clients trust us to be diligent.
  • We already have a firmly defined conflict escalation policy. 1

What It Means

  • Vendors are only allowed to pull out of a Forrester Wave prior to returning the questionnaire. We have a clear policy for vendors that choose not to participate at the beginning of a Forrester Wave process. Once vendors return the detailed Wave questionnaire to Forrester, they cannot pull out of the evaluation.
  • Vendors are not allowed to remove themselves from a Forrester Wave once the evaluation has begun. Once the Forrester Wave is underway, there is no vehicle for vendors to be removed from a Forrester Wave. And once a Forrester Wave is near completion, vendors cannot belatedly decide that they no longer want to be included in that Forrester Wave.


Know The Rules For Participating And Nonparticipating Vendors

Waves are very influential documents for clients and vendors alike. Because of their influence, Wave results can also be controversial. Here are a few recommendations for vendors to avoid conflicts and ensure full participation:

  • Attend the Wave kickoff teleconference at the beginning of the research process. These hour-long presentations clearly illustrate the methodology from back to front and provide key dates and deadlines — including the deadline to confirm Wave inclusion.
  • Thoroughly review the Wave evaluation criteria. At the beginning of each Wave, analysts provide each vendor with the opportunity to review the evaluation criteria. This is a critical part of the process to ensure that each vendor is evaluated fairly.
  • Be vocal about concerns over factual accuracy. Our clients depend on us to publish the truth. Getting the Wave right is our top priority; we encourage your feedback.


1 For more information on the Forrester Wave escalation policy, please view the Wave Vendor Review Policy.