It’s no secret that “SaaS is eating traditional software’s lunch” as Forrester Research so eloquently put it.* One of the biggest benefits of a SaaS solution over an on-premise (or hosted on-premise) solution is the number and frequency of upgrades. Forrester further elaborates:
Today, it is becoming less risky and often cheaper for eBusinesses to outsource the burden of support, scalability, and upgrades to the vendor. Recent survey data reveals that 43 percent of US retail, wholesale, and manufacturing firms have already transitioned from on-premises to SaaS commerce technology with a further 13 percent planning to complete this transition by the end of 2016. Accordingly, we estimate 10 percent of all on-premises customers due for an overhaul this year are instead migrating to SaaS to take full advantage of multi-tenancy and instant upgrades.*
As you adopt more SaaS solutions in your organization, how do you take advantage of six or more upgrades per year? If you are used to the slower pace of software that’s hard to upgrade, you will need to adjust your planning to get the most out of SaaS. We have six tips to help you.
1. Choose two big needle-moving features and be sure to activate them ASAP
You know your business better than anyone. As a result, you understand what makes you money. Of all the features being released over the course of a year from your vendor, choose two that will make the biggest impact on your top or bottom lines. Once you’ve decided what to focus on, get your team aligned on those priorities to make sure everyone is firing on all cylinders. And get the features launched as close to the release date as possible. We promise it will feel great.
2. Make one small improvement with each release
Don’t let a bi-monthly upgrade go by without finding at least one minor feature that you like. For example, the release might just include a small feature like a new button in the store interface that makes it faster for store employees to ship orders. By implementing the new button, you could save five seconds on a task. Take the time to get the button activated, and you will save countless hours over thousands of orders. It’s worth it!
3. Communicate to key stakeholders that you’ve just improved something
Don’t be bashful; take credit. It’s important that you communicate to your organization and key stakeholders that you’ve just done something. Not only does this keep them abreast of what your department is up to, it also lets them know if a change may impact them directly. Not to mention, it shows that you’re constantly innovating and pursuing continuous improvement through upgrades, which is a trait that is necessary to stay competitive with the breakneck speed of the marketplace and customer demands.
4. Pay attention to vendor release notes
The release notes tell you exactly what is coming down the line. This is how you can make your plans. As soon as those release notes become available, grab a coffee, curl up with them, and get to know what is coming up next. As you read and think about ways to improve your company, you will be able to implement the processes that are right for your business and expand on the areas of the upgrade that will take your strategy to the next level.
5. Make speed a core value on your team
One of the benefits of SaaS is the upgrades. You don’t have to deal with clunky, quickly outdated software that has you stuck on a version that is hard or impossible to upgrade. If you have chosen SaaS, you have already chosen speed over sluggishness. We suggest you embrace and celebrate speed and make it a core value on your team. Make t-shirts! Make hats! Make banners that say, “Speed is my jam!” and give out Speed Awards to the members on your team who make efforts to overcome antiquated systems, ideas and habits. Because the only way to keep up is to evolve – quickly.
6. If any system is an obstacle to speed, get rid of it now
Get rid of at least one piece of crappy, hard-to-upgrade software every year. Make a habit of it. In this age of technology, there is always something new and something better, something that will do the job and do it with faster results. Those big software company salesmen love to tell you how complicated and expensive software has to be. Don’t believe them. An upstart technology with the right multi-tenant architecture and awesome RESTful APIs can replace software that costs 10x as much. And don’t worry about scale – SaaS software can be load-tested to see if it can handle your load.
The idea of a Speed Award is to motivate team members to rise above antiquated processes, and you, as a leader, need to make sure you are constantly eligible for the Speed Award. Follow these six tips, and you will be richly awarded as a leader who helps you compete in the modern era.
*Retrieved from US Commerce Platform and Services Forecast, 2014 to 2019. Source: Forrester Research, Inc. February 5, 2015.