The technology landscape is littered with the carcasses of failed SaaS product offerings.
As a CTO or CIO focused on developing new technologies, you can empathize with the pain when a SaaS product misses the mark: Hours of development time, thousands of dollars of resources, the hopes and dreams of product managers, marketers, investors, and other stakeholders – all left in ruins.
The road to SaaS success is fraught with challenges. Data breaches can instantly roil any enterprise. The pace of technological change is constantly mandating that we – and our engineering teams – re-educate ourselves as a means of remaining apace. The need for skilled talent seems to be outpacing the supply.
According to CIO.com, the main reasons that SaaS projects can fail are manifold – they include:
- The rate and pace of change.
- The complexity and massive integration of systems, processes and applications, which often result in major outages and instability issues.
- Ongoing pressure to cut costs year after year, despite having to meet increasing pressure from the business to innovate.
- Threats to the business, particularly cybersecurity and privacy-related issues.
- Being swamped in responding to regulations and audit issues, rather than getting on with helping the business make money and gain competitive advantage through its technology and information systems.
- Still having to deal with legacy systems (many organizations are still on Windows XP because it’s complicated to move forward).
- Not being in control, particularly with the rapid rise in outsourcing and cloud services.
So how can you beat the odds, and emerge as a SaaS success story? Here are five keys to bear in mind when preparing your team for SaaS success:
- The Customer Is Your Boss: No longer will your outcomes simply be measured by how well your product functions and performs. Customer acceptability is the key to SaaS success in today’s marketplace. Writes Marcus Donald: “CTOs need to create reliable platforms which customers can trust and interact on in the most time-saving way possible.”
- Run Your IT Department as a Mini-Enterprise: Today’s CIO has more in common with a CEO than ever before. You must constantly be mindful of budgets, resources, objectives and ROI. “Any CIO who wants to move from supporting the business to being the business,” writes Martha Heller, “has to change their own mindset.”
- Keep Your Eye on the Stack: Sure, business acumen is critical to your success as a contemporary CIO – but don’t stray too far from the stack and architecture. Possessing a top-to-bottom knowledge of all of the details of your SaaS product development process – including how vendors fit into your portfolio – is the best inoculation against project failure.
- Don’t Fear Calculated Risks: Be the CIO that is willing to take a chance on new technologies, capabilities, solutions and processes. Your willingness to connect the right people with the right partners and investors can be the difference maker. But beware, writes Heller: “However, when CIOs are going to increase their risk tolerance for new players, then they need a sophisticated vendor management office that will help manage the new slew of vendors.”
- Differentiate, Compete, Succeed: Continuous improvement and constant innovation are the hallmarks of the best CIOs. “Those who rise to the top”, writes Heller, “can take key capabilities, like processes for new product introduction or customer fulfilment….[to] increase the competitive capabilities of the company.”
Finally, remember to play to the strengths of your team. Look inward to develop internal leadership, by identifying the business and functional leaders with the chops to advance your company’s culture – fostering growth, a future-forward posture, and an attitude geared toward success.
Have questions? Schedule a SaaS Project Needs Assessment.