SaaS Deployments: It’s Good to Talk

August 03, 2016 | Khalda De Souza

Enterprises adopting SaaS applications to run their business processes are often entering the unknown. They don’t know what moving to the cloud actually entails, both technically and organizationally. They don’t understand the migration and integration needs relating to existing systems and data. And they certainly underestimate the support requirements to ensure effective management of the solution that continues to align to dynamic business needs. 

What’s more worrying is that, after decades of experience with IT services and outsourcing of legacy, on premises applications, there are lots of generally accepted approaches, issues and outcomes that some buyers assume will translate to the SaaS world.  This means that buyers are just not asking the right questions upfront to ensure successful SaaS deployments. Moreover, as service providers and buyers alike are actually learning about the SaaS services market as it evolves, enterprises are still working out what the ‘right’ questions should be!

So, what should enterprises be doing about this? Generally, it’s about talking.  Talking to peer enterprises and pushing the service provider to demonstrate their knowledge of the market. A few key approaches for buyers include:

  • Contract consulting services that provide business and process focused advice, preferably prior to any software platform selection. Select service providers who provide some sort of Cloud Readiness Assessment services that include technical and organizational elements. Ensure that you know exactly what is involved, and which resources you need to make it work. Deloitte has simulator tools, for example, that explain the go-live process to consultants and clients.  Some service providers also offer important support readiness services that advise on how to support the SaaS application in-house for enterprises that do not want to outsource this. Aon Hewitt’s approach to helping clients to not just ‘go live’ but ‘Go Thrive’ is a fantastic example of assisting clients to be self-sufficient post-deployment.
  • Talk to other buyers to share best practice and experience. There is no substitute for talking to other enterprises that are implementing, or even better, have already implemented the same product. Also, identify which particular area is causing a problem and talk to enterprises that are facing that exact same problem. Remember, this could be an enterprise in a different industry or country, so broaden your horizons in terms of defining ‘peer enterprise’.  Service providers are often good at bringing best practices learned to every deployment. They are typically less great at physically connecting enterprises to have the conversation. So, buyers need to demand these connections. 
  • Talk to the software vendor. Often the software vendor connects clients too. Workday is excellent at doing this, and enterprises have opportunities to make some great contacts for the duration of the deployments.
  • Go to conferences, especially the big software vendor events to meet other enterprises and service providers. Buyers increasingly find this incredibly useful for service provider selection as well as important connections and best practice lessons. Buyers can also stay abreast of all new developments in the market to make more informed decisions. For example, did you know that Aon Hewitt acquired UK-based Kloud and now has European feet-on-the street?
  • Push the service provider to be proactive. At the end of the day, they are the ones with experience and if they don’t know how best to do something, no-one does!

Both service providers and buyer enterprises have to be proactive on keeping up the communication to ensure a successful SaaS deployment that meets desired business outcomes.  So, pick up that phone, get out to those conferences and have those conversations in the hallways. It’s where you will likely get the most useful advice to help you on your SaaS journey. 

Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT Services

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