About.com defines a SaaS as follows: Software as a service is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser. SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications, including office & messaging software, payroll processing software, DBMS software, management software, CAD software, development software, gamification, virtualization, accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), management information systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP), invoicing, human resource management (HRM), content management (CM) and service desk management.
Using any type of new technology or software can easily confuse a company and its employees about which business processes this new software application deals with and which employees will deal with this new software. By clearly defining each one of their processes and assigning roles to each one of their employees for their new SaaS system before it is actually rolled out, a business can avoid confusion at a later stage.
To help make this transition as effortless as possible, the SaaS provider must have the dedicated support from beginning of the relationship and be continually pressing forward as the client grows.
How a supported service handles clients
From first introduction to well into a business relationship, the level of supported service and vested interest should not change. The business environment is constantly changing and evolving and so do the needs of many companies. What worked and solved a problem a year ago, may need to be changed or developed more extensively to still be effective. It’s important to constantly be addressing the needs of an organization as they change due to external or internal factors.
Discovering needs and recommending the right solution
Even within industries, every company has their own unique needs or way of doing things. For example, how one contractor may conduct daily inspections is not the same for all contractors. Or what tasks are currently costing one company time and money because of inefficiency, may not be a problem or as important for another.
It’s important to spend the time to get to the bottom of pain points for an organization, to set goals on how to overcome them, and the steps that need to be taken for success. Providing a supported software service does not consist of selling an out of the box solution. It involves multiple touch points in working with a client to make sure the product is the right solution now, and will have the adaptability to grow with the client’s needs in the future.
Finding the champion and developing a working relationship
One of the most dangerous/expensive phrases in business is “we’ve always done it that way”. Implementing a new process in daily operations or learning a new software system can seem overwhelming and a lot of work, and without provided support and product experience it can be. That’s why it is imperative to have a champion dedicated within the client’s organization to work with the software support team to implement and train the team of users so they are comfortable and confident using the system.
A supported service will work with the champion through the process and dedicate the amount of time needed to reach this level. Again, with each company the time needed for implementation will vary, and there should be no restrictions to the time allotted. Many software providers will put limitations on the time they will provide to a client for support, causing unnecessary pressure and an unpleasant experience.
Are your goals being met?
The definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. A supported service will make sure all your goals are being met, and if they aren’t, making the necessary changes until they are. Setting a timeline and a strategy will help keep this process on track. It can be very discouraging for a team to fall short or lose sight of achievable goals. Knowing that every company has different goals, and it’s up to the service provider to understand the client’s unique goals, revisit them, and ensure they are achieved in a timely manner.
Having the knowledge that a service provider is there to support and work with you along the way will help alleviate the pressure that can come with implementing a new system and lay the foundation for a trusting relationship. Software as a supported service is more than just a service, it involves discovering needs, identifying pain points, and consistently ensuring business goals are being achieved.