SaaS implementation: Steps to getting it right
SaaS software and platforms are commonplace at multinational companies today, they are often part of a digital project or digital transformation undertaking at an organization where key IT leaders look at various departments and see how they can be connected better with digital technology and data flows.
SaaS platforms are considered by many to be a better alternative to on premise IT infrastructure, this is largely because an external provider looks after the day-to-day maintenance which can be hugely time-consuming and draining on a business. The responsibility of updating the software and upgrading it whenever possible also falls to the SaaS provider so the purchaser can feel reassured that they are always working with the latest edition of the technology or platform.
The selling points of SaaS are not in doubt, but questions do arise on the best way to go about an implementation project and get it right first time so that there aren’t difficulties and challenges down the road. In this article we’re going to look at a couple of things you can do to get the best possible chance of success when implementing SaaS technology.
This is really about establishing ownership and accountability and also a method for tracking progress and ensuring that communication is fresh and constant. It is often better to assign multiple owners, so that they can interact and speak to each other on a regular basis when it comes to any decision-making and tracking the progress of the implementation.
Some companies do not have the luxury of employing a specific project manager or digital transformation officer to oversee a SaaS implementation. Other companies go down the somewhat dubious route of buying an out of the box digital technology SaaS solution where they are largely left to their own devices and kind of have to figure out the implementation as they go along, this is not a recommended or satisfying situation.
If you assign owners who have been in the loop on the project right from the start, understand the goal and are clear on the features and benefits of the new SaaS technology, then these same people are in a position to hit the ground running when it comes to the early implementation work.
Whenever a company is undergoing a new project, effective teamwork is always going to be essential. Having an implementation team in place, with the right owners, who have an appropriate level of experience and skills in numerous technologies can be very influential when it comes carrying out a successful implementation. As well as this, all team members involved in such a project should be on board and in agreement on how it should be executed, including who to assign as owners and ensuring that everyone is capable and happy to work in this team dynamic to ensure that their implementation project is in line with their company’s goals and business needs.
Define key goals and success points
No matter how experienced or committed your assigned owners or team of professionals are, there can always be challenges and unexpected events happening with an implementation. There is a need to be agile and responsive but at the same time stick to an outlined plan and hit those key markers that indicate progress is being made.
It is best to start by drawing up a plan, filled with key dates and milestones; define which of these dates are an absolute necessity to meet, which ones you can be flexible on, and which dates indicate a success or finishing point for that part or tranche of the project. Then communicate this plan to the wider team who is involved in the project and also to the leadership team who will be observing progress.
This will make it easier for you to track and monitor activity as well as establish how much progress is being made and if it is happening at the pace, you either expected it to happen or needed to happen. It also gives you the opportunity to celebrate key successes or milestones along the way which can keep momentum and enthusiasm going in a challenging implementation.
Furthermore, by having a plan in place then it is always there to refer back to and be used to evaluate the progress of the project. If things are starting to get a bit off track and stray from the initial goals that were agreed upon, then the team can refer back to the project plan to re-align themselves and get back on the right track. The last thing a team wants to happen is for their intentions and goals to become unclear and lead to the breakdown of their project, but this can be avoided if the goals are established right from the beginning and the plan has been made clear and accessible for everyone that is involved.
Identify key positive impacts
Identifying how the implementation is going to improve and optimize a department, business function or internal business processes will be key to keeping momentum going on the implementation. Without a clear understanding of this, there may be a temptation among certain stakeholders to switch focus to other tasks and priorities. Day-to-day work cannot be ignored, and you are unlikely to have the luxury of dedicated staff focusing on an implementation full time all the time.
Therefore, ensuring that the business as a whole and then the team who are actually working on the implementation are aware of the impacts that this project is going to have on the business can help keep motivation and dedication levels up if there is a lull in progress or if there is a moment when another area of the company requires attention, and the implementation plan needs to potentially take a backseat. Having the impacts clearly laid out and understood by the employees can help avoid any risk of the workers losing interest or even becoming less productive and efficient in the management of this project.
When you do identify the positive impacts that the implementation will have on the business or service delivery, you get to generate a level of enthusiasm which fuels momentum, and action. This is really about preventing any stagnation or a slowdown in the workstreams needed to hit those deadlines and make sure your implementation is in place and up and running on the required date.
Take any opportunity to communicate these positive impacts to business leaders and HR executives who may choose to communicate what is happening in widespread company communications. The more people that know it is happening, understand why it is happening and get excited about the implications, the more people you can then reach out to and engage with when you hit any unexpected roadblocks and need an outside opinion or help with a specific solution.
When undergoing a new SaaS implementation project in a company, it isn’t always clear as to how a team can successfully carry out this project in a way that is going to be efficient and effective. The few points that were discussed in this article could be useful when it comes to ensuring your SaaS implementation is successful; by assigning multiple owners to make sure the project runs smoothly and productively, as well as outlining all of your goals and key positive impacts then you increase your chance of a strong SaaS implementation process.
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