In the previous blog, we have already discussed how to choose the right SaaS solution for your technology stack. If you haven't checked on it, we strongly recommend you do it before continuing with this blog post.
Now it's time to discuss software implementation, which requires a strategy involving processes and people, how it will work, and what and who will execute such activities. Planning and visualization are key!
SaaS allows automation and improves the management of the company's support processes, such as sales, RevOps, accounting, inventory control and management, payments, and marketing, among others. Simultaneous and intercommunicated software implementation between all departments is vital. As a domino effect, all departments and personnel are affected when change occurs. You must consider all plusses and minuses and prepare for success and failure. SaaS implementation requires a general and flexible plan.
Saas solutions come in many shapes and forms. They all fulfill all different companies' needs. Solutions such as CRM (e.g., Salesforce and Pipedrive), Marketing Automation (Marketo, Hubspot, to mention a couple), and ERP, among others. The preview solutions require their unique approach and present challenges to overcome. This is why Plauti presents six steps to implement a newly acquired SaaS solution and successfully drive adoption across key stakeholders.
Understanding software implementation as a single step can be overwhelming. The best way to achieve the goal is to break the plan into stages. Assign responsibilities, define goals, and schedule timelines. You can accomplish this easily by creating an Implementation Roadmap.
It is recommended to set short, medium, and long-term goals. With the software implementation plan, you are looking to restructure as a whole, benefiting your technology stack, so it is wise to be patient and flexible to a certain extent. You may need to reroute the course and adapt to the actual circumstances. Keep in mind the ultimate goal, but be aware of multiple possible scenarios.
1. Standardize processes to be managed by the SaaS solution
There is no point in software implementation if there is no prior internal organization. Therefore, processes must be precise and standardized. Being organized is the only way the staff will know who to contact in case of questions or errors. Usually, the company that provides business management software services counts on experts that help companies get ready for a correct implementation—the companies offering the SaaS alike offer their services and consultancy. You can also take this into account when purchasing your solution. High-quality customer service remains a number one priority.
During the standardization phase, you must eliminate all those sub-processes that do not add value to your company and are not easy to process with your new SaaS solution. It is paramount to update internal processes and be fully aware of what is happening at all levels. Now is the perfect time to assign responsibilities if you haven't crossed this task from your list.
2. Data Quality Assurance
Data quality is key to making accurate, knowledgeable decisions. And while all data has some level of “quality,” various characteristics and factors define the degree of data quality. Furthermore, based on the technology stack, data quality characteristics will likely be more critical to multiple organizational stakeholders. With accuracy and reliability in data quality, managers and staff can trust the data and make knowledgeable decisions. Poor data can, in turn, increase operational costs and wreak havoc for downstream users.
Before going into the next step: technical implementation, it’s best to take a step back and ensure data quality is the number one priority. At this point, you have confirmed the obtained SaaS tool is compatible with your technology stack. Still, adopting a solution that allows you to operate with clean and accurate data is critical. In short words: The correct message is through the proper channel. The integration of this new solution should never disrupt the flow of clean data between systems and departments.
3. Technical implementation
Software implementation is one of the most straightforward steps on the list due to the tremendous support from the companies that offer the SaaS solution. The central part of the implementation is data migration, which is nothing more than transferring the data you want to incorporate into the new program. This information is usually scattered in various files, formats, systems, and media. Usually, it is up to the company to enter this information, but this can be a complex procedure if it has been in operation for a long time. Fortunately, there are up-to-date solutions that make this step easier.
Here lies one more time the importance of ensuring data quality. A clean database will always be easy to transfer and manage.
4. Get ready for change and train your staff
Implementing new ways of doing things takes work, as we will always encounter resistance to change. Routine allows companies to focus efforts and time on working on main activities, but it limits innovation and creativity in the long run. Therefore, it is crucial to work closely with the people involved in managing the new software so that they understand the benefits of the new tool and are willing to learn. Empowered employees are motivated to rise to the top, driving their performance, satisfaction, and business success.
Improving IT solutions is one of the fastest ways organizations can engage with their employees to ensure they have the instruments they need to perform while they learn how to use them successfully. It is highly advised to train all staff involved from the beginning. Training helps align people to the business objectives, ensures that everyone follows the same reasoning and performance, and provides a good development curve for their knowledge and skills. Training workshops should be integrated promptly, adapting them to the employees. Knowing the staff helps to understand how to reach them efficiently.
Training programs need to be regular and available to old and new staff. The company must provide manuals that serve as consulting for all departments.
5. Testing phase
Although SaaS is designed to work correctly from day one, it is necessary to have a testing phase where new and old processes can coexist. However, this phase must be short, and people must be attentive to find errors or inconsistencies to correct them as soon as possible and have a successful final stage.
Staff needs to know the processes and what to expect from them. Communication channels must be set up correctly so that employees know what to do in case of anomalies.
6. Continuous evaluation
After obtaining good test results from your software implementation plan, all that is left is to use SaaS and witness positive results. However, the journey continues. Part of the software implementation plan is continuous improvement. In the long term, you can implement a periodic evaluation to get in touch with your team to check on the feedback, fix anomalies, and implement new ideas.
Responsible personnel should constantly do testing to ensure that the software continues to meet your needs. Many solutions in the market already offer scheduled and automated tests, so you don't have to check if it is working or not constantly. SaaS providers provide electronic support as part of their plans to help the company get the most out of the solutions. In addition, because the software is updated directly in the cloud, errors can be solved without requiring new installations.