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Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Over the past 15 years I’ve seen so many software companies’ “SaaS Migration Strageties” perish as they jump on the SaaS bandwagon and try to migrate their software to the cloud. So I thought I’d come up with some simple rules to follow:

1. SaaS is more than just a financing model

Too many people (including analysts) talk far too much about SaaS simply being another way of  financing software purchases. NO, NO, NO, SaaS is whole new way of purchasing, delivering and using software. The Sales Process & Pipeline is different, the R&D lifecycle is different, the support mechanisms are different, Product Messaging & Positioning are different , revenue recognition is different. If you are just after an alternative financing model for your business you need to consider the hosted/managed service alternatives. It’s a business model not a financing option.

2. Ensure Rapid Deployment for success

There is truth in this phrase “On Demand”. Every successful SaaS business can rapidly deploy their software, often without vendor intervention. This means you need to take a long hard look at your software and ask yourself “Can we make this a Rapid Deployment Application?”. If you still need to undertake significant professional services work to deploy your software for customers then you’re running a hosted solution that will do little to drive user adoption. Go back and understand what you need to do to make it a RDA. Investment upfront will pay dividends very swiftly.

3. Reduce Software Replication

You don’t need to run the ‘multi-tenanted’ architecture from the outset, but you do need to understand where your scale points are, and have a migration path mapped out as your SaaS strategy succeeds. Running multiple copies of your entire software  has more inherent problems that is worth managing. You’ll kill any chance of reaping the benefits of eventually running a single solution by doing this, and burn 4 times as much cash than you would with a proper SaaS migration Strategy.

4. Properly Resource Your ‘SaaS Migration Strategy’

Every SaaS business [new or converted] goes through an initial period of cash burn as you line up your SaaS ducks. Prepare for this. You’re embarking on a new investment that requires dedicated resource to succeed. If you can’t fund or project manage dedication to the strategy then you are better off putting the strategy to one side. Over the last year I have helped 4 software businesses with their ‘SaaS migration Strategy”, 2 took my advice on this and succeeded, one took my advice on board after wasting 3 months of distracted resource planning, and the other has shelved their plans after 5 months.  Remember your SaaS Migration Strategy is more than just a software project.

5. Integrate to communicate.

Now that you’ve decided to run your software from the cloud the best way to exploit this is via integrations to other systems, I go as far to say, put some of your maketing spend into creating integrations. It’s the principle of social networking applied to SaaS applications, the more you network the more business you’ll generate. Just take a look around the web and how many integrations the successful SaaS apps have. SaaS requires integration to be truly useful.

Ignore any of these and you risk running a hosted/managed solution not a SaaS solution. More cost, less benefit…..

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Open your doors in the cloudThese days everyone states they have an API, and when you’re evaluating a new application that you need to integrate, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking “OK, they’ve got an API so it must be do-able”. Generally I tend to steer clear of applications that don’t have publicly available API and user documentation as you end up with a bias view of applications.

All too often software businesses get a little protective over information surrounding their “baby”, for fear of the competition stealing ideas or other unscrupulous acts. Well here’s the thing, all the time your competition are looking at what your product can do they’re not innovating, they’re just playing catch up – good news for you!

Without exception all successful software companies, great & small, run a common philosophy – let people in (to document libraries) and innovation through collaboration is accelarated far faster than you can push it alone. So what’s the strategy I’m extolling here?

Open up all of your product literature to the world online. Run an online user guide, a wiki, forums, detailed API documentation. Sure require users to register, but don’t insist on some draconian screening process, just a simple registration process that allows you to collect a little user info and manage access. Now you’ve got the foundation for a collaborative user community, and one of the key benefits you’ve just created is dropping hurdles for your sales team. Your prospective customers will want to do some research on your application, so let them.

Next you need to start engaging with this community. Start by creating blogs aimed at the different audiences (e.g. Business Users & Developers). Don’t make the mistake of making a blog the responsibility of one author, it will become stale very quickly, get a range of people from across your organisation contributing. Publicise all of these resources through your own website and out on the web. As your community grows encourage customers, partners, and others who interact with your software to blog about it.

The high level lesson you’re learning here is, you can’t do it all on your own, you will need help, and there’s no better help that the people who want to interact with your software on what ever level. And it’s a lot faster and cheaper way to benefit than using external ‘consultants’.

Open the doors to documentation and watch your ability to innovate accelerate,  your customers start helping each other, your credibility rise, your adoption rates increase, and your competition constantly play catch up. If you believe in what you do let everyone know.

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