In recent years, a staggering number of companies have adopted SaaS or Software as Service to offer better services and stay ahead of the competition. However, this willingness to keep up with technology doesn’t come without its own challenges. After all, SaaS is still quite new and if these third-party applications aren't implemented and managed correctly through good SaaS vendor management practices, SaaS adoption won’t churn out the high business value you’re hoping for.
Read on to find out how to achieve a successful SaaS implementation.
SaaS implementation is the adoption and integration of a software application into an existing business workflow. This process can be complex and requires the prior assessment of business needs, budget, benefits, limits, and more. Once the company has a SaaS implementation plan for the software that will be adopted, the implementation process can begin.
The SaaS implementation stage is also referred to as the SaaS onboarding stage. Here, the client informs the third-party vendor about internal processes, expectations, goals, and timelines. Likewise, the business needs to learn all important details about vendor procedures to ensure that the new tools integrate with the existing IT landscape.
Next, find out about the SaaS implementation best practices that let you maximize the value you can get out of adopting Software-as-a-Service for your company.
With an enormous increase in digital literacy, almost any employee can procure a SaaS application without notifying or getting approval from IT departments. This also means that anyone can become an application owner, which leads to shadow IT, overlapping applications, and higher cloud spend than necessary. That’s why it’s important to assemble a software implementation team that will drive the project to success.
Smaller companies should have at least a team of two consisting of an acting administrator and a training lead for the new system. Ideally, the acting administrator is an IT expert who has experience working closely with vendors. The training lead typically uses the system on a daily basis and is the go-to person when it comes to questions and concerns about the software.
Larger companies on the other hand will need a much bigger team. So, next to an acting administrator and training lead, there is also a project manager, functional lead, technical lead, and an individual or team that is responsible for change management. This group of experts is often referred to as the steering committee.
The project teams or owners of a SaaS project create an implementation roadmap. In this map, they set goals and metrics that will allow them to track the success of the SaaS implementation. Key metrics include the scope of the adoption or how much time it should take until completed. It’s also important to think about what kind of utilization level should be achieved within the first 3 months, 6 months, or within a year.
Furthermore, a good SaaS implementation plan should also capture which departments will be the first ones to adopt the new software if a company-wide adoption is planned.
The easiest and most effective way to track the roll-out plan and individual goals when it comes to SaaS implementation is to have a tracking visualization tool that is usually part of a SaaS management platform. This will also allow you to check whether the utilization rate is moving in the right direction.
There is a reason that companies hire experts for change management. More often than not, it is their job to control the chaos that comes with uprooting an outdated system and implementing new ways of operation. It’s important that teams and employees who will be working with the new tools embrace the change as much as the implementation team.
One way to achieve a successful SaaS adoption and to get everyone on board is to follow a proven methodology for change management and clearly outline the benefits of the new tool to get everyone on board.
The fully embracing change also means getting business stakeholders on your side. There’s nothing more frustrating than unexpected roadblocks in the middle of the implementation process. That’s why establishing good communication channels and proper documentation are key.
During the adoption process, you can also promote the use of training tools that the SaaS vendor offers and open up communication between the different departments for troubleshooting initial problems with the software and eradicating misinformation or rumors as soon as they arise.
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After rolling out the SaaS adoption plan, it’s vital to track the adoption process and keep encouraging departments and teams to utilize the new tool. This is especially important when an entire process was changed.
SaaS usage might stagnate in the beginning as there could be psychological barriers that need to be overcome. Through a SaaS utilization tracking tool, you can keep an eye on every department and its software users and assess how their usage pattern is evolving. This also helps in identifying who needs additional training and encouragement to adopt the new technology. Sometimes, working with a vendor who has more experience in rolling out the respective software is a good idea.
Tracking SaaS usage will also inform you when SaaS implementation can be considered a success. This usually happens once you’ve reached the objectives and goals in your roll-out plan. At times, it’s necessary to adjust the metrics within the plan if the goals were too unrealistic in the first place. Since SaaS implementation is a learning process, not meeting the desired metrics on the first try is much less dramatic than it seems. If anything, it can inform you about the potential pitfalls in SaaS adoption and lead to much smoother future adoptions.
Be sure to identify the impact the new SaaS application has on your business during and after its implementation. Chances are that the benefits you were hoping for in your initial roll-out plan will not completely crystalize until later. That is if you keep driving adoption and encourage SaaS usage across the board. It’s vital to connect the status quo to the goals in your plan and clearly document your progress, setbacks, and how the tool is affecting the business in terms of company culture, budget, and performance.
If the SaaS application has replaced an entire business process, it is almost easier to identify its impact on business operations, teams, and services. However, if old processes are still in place and available to users, it’s important to examine the “who” and “why” in order to take the final step in SaaS adoption.
Once the SaaS implementation has been successful and certain criteria are met, there is no time to lean back and relax. SaaS tools require continuous maintenance in the form of monitoring and SaaS optimization.
For instance, you may realize that another solution that didn’t exist when you first implemented the software is a better fit for your organization. This scenario is very likely, considering that the SaaS product landscape is highly competitive and new vendors appear all the time. However, changing vendors won’t be a concern during the first year or subscription term.
Right after the implementation begins the observation phase that builds a case for necessary refinements. Only once the SaaS solution is live, you can develop a clear sense of what is working and what isn’t.
Once adjustments have been made, periodical reviews especially at the time of renewal will give you the opportunity to right-size licenses or get rid of unused SaaS applications. And this is where an enterprise architect comes in handy – they will match one SaaS application with the application portfolio management plan to determine its value for the business and apply solutions for SaaS spend optimization.
A well-construed SaaS implementation paves the way for improved processes, transparent communication, and a company culture open to change. It also helps you to keep costs at a minimum and increase productivity across teams.
However, you also need ongoing SaaS management and monitoring in order to ensure that your enterprise is reaping all the possible benefits.
Establish project ownership
Set goals and create a roll-out plan
Encourage and track adoption
Measure and optimize business impact
How to implement SaaS?