eTOM or TAM as a product mapping tool?

Have you noticed that TM Forum’s eTOM seems to be used in common vernacular when people talk about mapping and/or comparing products. eTOM and TAM are both quite closely linked (you’ll notice the similarities in colour-banding between the two). However, eTOM is more of a standardized mapping of workflows, whereas TAM is more of a mapping of standardized product functionalities.

Since workflows follow a journey, often through multiple products (potentially even multiple vendors’s products), I personally don’t subscribe to eTOM being the best way of mapping product functionality / capability by vendor. To me, TAM is much more applicable for this purpose*. If you’re a service provider mapping your user journeys, then eTOM does seem the right fit. Do you agree? How do you best use these TM Forum toolkits?

* However, I do note that if the customers are talking eTOM (or any other terminology for that matter) then it’s best to move to their language / wavelength. In my experience, many customers don’t know much about either eTOM or TAM (using it as “inclusive” jargon), so you should be able to switch to their wavelength with just a few questions about what they really want to know in relation to a request for eTOM mapping.

Interestingly, the top level TAM mapping is not necessarily a great communication tool in its own right, but I find that with the right supporting dialogue it can tell a very powerful product comparison story.

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2 thoughts on “eTOM or TAM as a product mapping tool?

  1. Very recently I did a TAM Mapping of a customer’s OSS applications (running into 100s of apps) and helped rationalise many of those leading to dramatic tco reductions and other benefits. I’ve always maintained apps to TAM, process to eTOM. If I felt creative, then I usually study a process as-is and actually animate it over TAM mapped apps to show the systems touch point of a process. One could always annotate on the same map, usergroups involved in the process.

  2. Hi Steelysan
    Great stuff! I do things the same way, although I haven’t done any with animations (yet). I’ve also done group-wise mappings with swim-lane visuals but your animation approach might be a better way to show that third/fourth dimension!

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