Nowadays, the success of a company is often predicated on its use of software. Aside from actionable business strategy, brands are heavily dependent on technology for automating and simplifying internal processes.
Despite all the benefits some of these tools bring, they can also provide specific challenges. According to SaaS development companies, comprehensive suites take massive efforts to adopt, causing errors, miscommunications, and loss of productive time.
To help you out, we’ve created an ultimate guide that tackles SaaS implementation. We'll first explain this term, and then we'll talk about the necessary steps for adding new, complex software to your business.
What is SaaS implementation?
The SaaS implementation process refers to all the necessary steps that allow the introduction of a SaaS solution into day-to-day business operations. Depending on a tool's price and complexity, the implementation team should first determine whether the platform suits the company's business requirements. The management should also analyze the budget and assess the potential impact on customer success and the sales process.
Once the high-ups determine that the platform can help the business, they should create a SaaS implementation roadmap that would hasten SaaS adoption and ensure successful implementation.
The client should stay in touch with the SaaS provider throughout the process. They should communicate their business goals and expectations while also asking for advice each time they encounter issues during software implementation. Similarly, the management should learn as much as possible about the platform and the potential risks that its introduction carries.
3 Types of SaaS implementation
The implementation software depends on the program's complexity and the size of the client's company.
Smaller tools that are usually integrated with larger suites don’t require that much onboarding; most employees will master the features after a few uses. On the other hand, large business suites might require a lot of planning and long onboarding. On top of that, client companies might also introduce various add-ons that will make things that much harder for employees.
Without further ado, these are the 3 SaaS implementation models:
1. Self-guided SaaS implementation
Self-guided implementation is the easiest of the three implementations. As the name implies, it requires minimal involvement on the vendor's part. In most cases, a client will get all the answers by reading FAQs and other guides without having to contact the SaaS provider directly.
This type of implementation is common for smaller, intuitive tools with a few features. The self-guided approach might also work for larger tools, but only if you're using a limited number of functions or are working with a small, experienced team. A client company usually doesn’t require many integrations or customizations.
Even if a user doesn’t have much experience with a tool, a client company might still use self-guided SaaS implementation. In that case, they need to have a good onboarding strategy combined with relevant help documentation. Employees that are being onboarded should also have access to a mentor/senior who can show them the ropes.
2. Enterprise SaaS implementation
As the name suggests, enterprise implementation is much more complex, with numerous touchpoints between a client company and a vendor. Even if you have experience with this software, it's much better to rely on a provider for assistance.
During enterprise SaaS implementation, you'll likely require administrative training, the creation of unique accounts, multiple integrations, IT implementation, as well as communication, security, and compliance procedures.
These programs are commonly used as company-wide platforms that combine numerous functions and involve several departments. Besides focusing on functionality, enterprise SaaS implementation is necessary so you can introduce security measures and adhere to industry standards.
3. Hybrid SaaS implementation
Perhaps the most common type of implementation is the hybrid approach. The entire process is much more straightforward, but there's still a certain level of vendor involvement.
For example, when a SaaS provider sells a simple tool to a large company, they don't necessarily have to introduce security measures or compliance. Nevertheless, it's expected that the provider will hold a workshop for the employees introducing them to basic functionality.
There are also situations where a client can do all integrations and implementation themselves. However, they might occasionally get stuck or incur errors due to the tool's complexity and might require the vendor's assistance.
Benefits of the SaaS model
Switching to SaaS solutions isn't a fad that will suddenly go away. This software model is much more dominant than the previous formats, which is why businesses are adopting it at such a high rate. Among others, because they're so easy to use and implement, companies have started using numerous SaaS to automate various daily tasks.
Here is a quick breakdown of all the benefits you can get by switching to SaaS tools:
SaaS products represent a significant improvement over traditional software. These platforms are entirely cloud-based, and you can access them anytime as long as you have an internet connection. While using SaaS, you don't have to worry about servers, databases, and resource consumption.
Unlike standard programs, Software-as-a-Service doesn't require installation, nor do you have to worry about updates. Everything is done in real-time, with the SaaS vendor managing the entire process. Usually, you won’t even realize that the provider has changed something until you notice altered features within the dashboard or get a notification.
Given everything said so far, SaaS has lower costs than traditional programs. Client companies don’t have to invest in their own servers and other hardware. This also means less money spent on technicians who would maintain these systems.
Furthermore, as all SaaS is updated on the fly, you never have to spend extra money buying a new version of the program. Your SaaS product will get improved with technology, which also means you’ll benefit from higher workplace productivity.
However, it’s worth mentioning there are cases when SaaS is the pricier option. Some traditional programs can provide the same functionality for years without you ever having to buy new versions. On the other hand, if you wish to use a SaaS, you have to constantly pay monthly and annual fees.
Better user experience
For a SaaS model to be effective, it means that anyone should be able to use it without prior knowledge. Nowadays, these tools can help you execute various tasks, from video editing and content creation to accounting and logistics management. Because of that, it's vital for SaaS providers to create solutions that can be used by droves of people.
Among others, there’s a lot of emphasis on simple menus and intuitive UI. If that wasn’t enough, companies provide helpful content and call center support that would further assist users with SaaS platforms.
Improved data insights
Many SaaS applications collect data from the internet to provide actionable insights to users. You can monitor stock exchange prices, paid invoices, movement of your employees in the field, and gain other relevant information in real-time. This added functionality is a far cry from traditional software that only uses the internet for occasional updates.
Another cool thing about SaaS is that it grows with you. A small brand can get the basic package or use credits according to their current needs. As the company grows, it can upgrade its plans to gain extra features, include additional team members, and more credits. That way, you won't have to overpay for something you don't need.
Enhanced communication and data exchange
Nowadays, it’s very common for software to have communication and data exchange features. As SaaS works exclusively online, it makes sense for providers to invest a bit more money to develop this important functionality. Having the ability to share the screen and data with other users is critical, whether you're dealing with other team members, customers, or partners.
9 Critical moments during SaaS introduction
Before introducing new software to their daily routine, a company should have an actionable SaaS implementation plan to get the most out of it. Among others, the implementation team has to determine whether this new software moves the needle for the company.
Here's how a software implementation project would look in practice:
1. Analyzing the options
It would be foolish not to start your software implementation plan with SaaS market analysis.
Since its earliest days, the IT industry has been growing year by year. With the improvements to the internet and the way we communicate with each other, software brands have started competing worldwide. As a result, a consumer has access to much more options.
New SaaS companies are opening their doors every day, flaunting new technology and features. So, even if there's a go-to tool in your particular space, you should analyze all the available solutions before subscribing to their service.
Keep in mind that market analysis isn't a one-and-done process. It's something you need to do in perpetuity, so you're always in the loop with the latest software. Ultimately, if there's a better SaaS solution on the market that can give you a competitive advantage, it's worth exploring that alternative.
2. Determining business needs
Determining your requirements usually goes hand-in-hand with market analysis. When buying third-party applications, you need to establish the weak points and what you’re looking to solve with software. In many cases, companies aren't looking for specific features and, instead, are just looking to improve a part of their business (for example, sales or marketing).
Determining business needs and required SaaS is vital for new brands. As you haven’t subscribed to any tools, you need to figure out which software can provide the most value. Although companies are generally willing to invest in several solutions, you’ll probably have to prioritize at first.
Based on this assessment, you can pinpoint platforms that have the optimal features. For example, you might be looking for a platform to improve your invoicing or simplify logistics. Whatever the case, we suggest you get free trials of the most popular tools and see which one suits you the best.
3. Assessing tools’ past performance
The SaaS market is extremely dynamic. There is only a handful of situations where one tool dominated the market for several years straight. Companies are always looking to improve their solutions, so there's a lot of movement on the top.
Ideally, the implementation manager should assess the tool's previous performance and popularity. There are situations where a tool becomes popular because of an effective marketing campaign or a temporary fad, although there are better solutions on the market.
Furthermore, buying a program that has a good track record tells you that the SaaS business will continue making improvements during your subscription period. In other words, you won’t lose the competitive edge software provided when you initially signed the contract.
4. Finding the right budget
Assessing the budget is one of the essential steps for implementing SaaS. In the end, if you don’t have enough money to use a product effectively, there’s no point in introducing it in the first place. This is especially true for credit-based software that can eat away your money if you’re not careful.
Most companies are willing to spend every red cent for a quality tool. In fact, there’s a trend of using as many SaaS as possible to automate various departments and business tasks. Unfortunately, not every platform is as effective as we’re led to believe. Many tools have gained a good reputation because of flashy interface or features, but in practice, their data collection and analytics is flawed.
In an ideal world, you should try to assess how many leads you can get by implementing all these solutions. Ultimately, spending your money on a tool will always be worth it if it can help you accomplish a specific business goal.
5. Establishing ownership
Before introducing a new SaaS solution, you should also establish ownership of the tool. It's vital that the IT department approves the use of a specific solution and determines administrator duties. Otherwise, there's a good chance you'll encounter costly mistakes along the way.
Some of the most common problems include overlapping applications throughout different departments and excessive usage of credits. Because of that, you need to have IT supervisors that can delegate duties and enforce implementation. Otherwise, there's a good chance people will do what they want, thus going against the company's policies and business goals.
We suggest that you use a SaaS management platform to monitor SaaS use but also employee responsibilities and authorizations.
6. Creating an actionable plan
The SaaS implementation process is sometimes so complex that it requires a plan of action. Whether you're a small, medium, or large business, you should create a roadmap with set goals to track the process. A user will also need to introduce metrics to measure adoption success.
Among others, you need to determine which departments and teams should be the first to implement the new tech. For this particular purpose, you’ll need a tracking visualization tool within the management platform that will assess the level of adoption and how it aligns with your goals.
7. Encouraging adoption
The client’s management should have a proactive stance regarding the SaaS application adoption. Everyone should be on the same page regarding the tool, its potential benefits, and its long-term impact on the business. If everyone's on board, it will be much easier to implement the solution on a company level.
Most importantly, you should have a hands-on approach when helping employees. It’s not uncommon for staff members to encounter issues when using a program and its features. In these cases, the supervisors should do everything in their power to help them out and encourage collaboration between users.
8. Employing external professionals
Implementing new technology can send shockwaves across the company, especially when we're talking about large suites. No matter what you do, a portion of your less-flexible employees will struggle with the new solution. This is why brands often hire IT experts to help them with the transition.
Even if you have vendor support, there's a chance you'll need to hire temporary freelancers or onboard new team members for SaaS implementation. These professionals are meant to oversee the entire process while also providing support to less apt staff.
Expert’s role goes beyond simple SaaS implementation; they’re also responsible for organizational changes that come with the new technology.
9. Tracking impact
Lastly, make sure to track the impact of new software on all involved. There's a good chance that certain teams and departments will struggle to adopt the software, causing bottlenecks across the business.
Once you’re sure that everyone has acclimated to the SaaS, start tracking its impact on the business. Ideally, you should do a performance analysis on a monthly basis, establishing how your business results have improved from one period to the next.
The entire process should be documented so you can establish ROI. Furthermore, if you’re trying several SaaS solutions, you might also consider doing A/B testing to establish which one works best for your brand.
Of course, you need to do all these things in perpetuity. When dealing with a large platform that has numerous features and integrations, you should be on the lookout for ways to improve its functionality.
If you want to learn more about SaaS product development, let us know in the comments section below!