The Forrester Wave™

Optimize your vendor selection.

The Forrester Wave™ provides comparisons of vendors’ products and services. This interactive tool helps you optimize vendor selection with a detailed analysis of products and services based on Forrester’s transparent, fully accessible criteria.


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The Forrester Wave is Forrester's evaluation of vendors in a software, hardware, or services market, written for the role professionals we serve. In our Forrester Wave reports and spreadsheets, we expose both the criteria that we use to grade the vendor offerings and how we score and weight those criteria. Clients are encouraged to modify the weightings in the spreadsheet to create custom vendor shortlists that best meet their specific needs. Forrester Wave evaluations are driven by our analysis of data collected from the marketplace and the experience of our analysts. This document is your guide to understanding how we create a Forrester Wave report; it outlines the methodology that our analysts use to produce great Forrester Wave research.

Why Forrester Conducts Forrester Wave Evaluations

The Forrester Wave uses a transparent methodology to compare the players in a software, hardware, or services market so that the role professionals we serve can make well-informed decisions without spending months conducting their own research. The Forrester Wave offers two big 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.

Participants In The Forrester Wave Process

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

  • Analyst: owns the Wave and its conclusions. The analyst is the content expert for the Forrester Wave. The analyst determines the inclusion criteria, the evaluation criteria, and the scoring framework based on our Forrester Wave methodology and couples that with his or her knowledge of the marketplace and the needs of our clients. The analyst is ultimately responsible for determining the content of the Forrester Wave, including participating firms, evaluation criteria, scores, and analysis.
  • Research associate: manages the Forrester Wave process. A research associate (RA) drives and maintains the Forrester Wave project schedule and communicates with vendors throughout the process in most instances. The RA serves as the main Forrester contact for the vendors we include in a Forrester Wave and may participate in data-gathering processes, including lab days, product demos, and customer reference calls.
  • Vendor response team: provides detailed product and service information. The vendor response team comprises the key contacts that we work with at participating vendors. Forrester relies on the team's participation to provide feedback on the evaluation criteria, identify candidates for customer interviews, provide demos, and collect and verify the product and company information used in the Forrester Wave evaluation.
  • Customer references: share their experiences with the products — anonymously. Forrester will request a maximum of three customer references from Wave participants. Each of the three will be contacted by our research teams to schedule a brief call or complete a short survey. Forrester will ask the customer questions based on their experience with the service or product being evaluated. Customer references are not listed or named in the published materials unless this is specifically agreed upon prior to publication.

Before An Analyst Commits To Doing A Forrester Wave: Preparation Checklist

Before putting a Forrester Wave on Forrester's research calendar, the analyst:

  • Researches the category. The analyst conducts initial research to determine if the product or service is appropriate for a Forrester Wave, exploring questions like: Are Forrester clients confused about this market? Does Forrester receive a substantial number of questions related to it each month? Will Forrester clients be making buying decisions in the market within the next six to 12 months? Is the market murky, leading to buyer confusion? Which are the players that should potentially participate, based on market information and our clients' needs?
  • Identifies the category or defines the scope. The analyst examines how companies buy in order to define the scope of a Forrester Wave, asking questions like: Do clients tend to buy a large suite or smaller individual solutions? Analysts also consider which features or functionalities most differentiate the products or services in the market from each other when determining the depth of criteria to use.
  • Selects an evaluation method. There are two types of Forrester Wave evaluations: lab-based and questionnaire-based. Lab-based evaluations include demonstrations of products at a Forrester office (Forrester terms these "lab days"). The analyst may conduct lab-based evaluations to investigate an emerging or evolving software market or test a set of specific scenarios. Questionnaire-based evaluations rely on vendors to fill out surveys with product information. Questionnaire-based evaluations also often include a web-based product demo. Both lab-based and questionnaire-based Forrester Wave evaluations can require three components from participating vendors: 1) a strategy phone call during which the vendor outlines its product road map and organizational information; 2) a vendor-completed questionnaire about market presence; and 3) a customer reference survey or phone calls.
  • Creates the research plan and timeline. At this point, the analyst, content editor, and RA determine an appropriate project timeline and identify key milestones. Once the timeline is complete, the milestones are shared with the vendor response team.

Learn more about the Forrester Wave process roadmap, including specific project milestones.

Read about our Vendor Briefing process if you're interested in introducing your products and services to Forrester analysts.