Cloud computing has changed the way businesses of all sizes use IT services, notably enough to be branded as a “disruptive technology”. Out of many models of cloud computing, SaaS is the one which has brought out the paradigm shift in the way application software is used in companies. Growth of SaaS over the years has made one thing very clear – SaaS has gained enough trust so as to become a de facto model for software deployment across SMBs and enterprises.
The success of SaaS means a definite end in the usual way of doing business in the application software market. The whole ball game of selling software as a product has shifted to selling software as a service. Therefore, it is quite apparent that only when the services are used or adopted by the customers, will the vendors generate revenue.
Since SaaS is a paradigm shift in the world of software applications, and is largely dependent upon its adoption, surely it must have had (and still has) challenges that needed to be overcome, in order to generate revenue stream in millions of dollars.
If you are considering starting up a SaaS entity, or shifting towards providing your software solution the SaaS way, then you will find this article helpful. Here are five easy steps to remember when venturing out for a SaaS business:
1. Robust multi-tenancy – The Soul…
This characteristic, I would say, is the soul of a SaaS model. To be a successful SaaS vendor, you have to ensure that your SaaS solution is able to handle many customers at once. You have to understand the technicality for ensuring that every instance of your SaaS solution must be able to isolate customers efficiently and allow them to have their unique experiences. This should happen despite your customers sharing the instances and other underlying resources with other customers. The efficiency of seamless scalability is a must before you are ready to go to the market on a wider scale.
2. Sophisticated architecture – The Heart…
If you are building your SaaS solution you are most probably going to use the services of an IaaS provider, such as Amazon EC2 or Rackspace. The heart of an efficient SaaS solution would be its architecture which is able to utilize the flexible infrastructure resources that your IaaS vendor will provide you with. If your SaaS solution is not able to utilize the resources of an IaaS that enables your SaaS solution to provide seamless scalability to your customers, then you may not be able to provide a sustainable SaaS experience to your customers.
Do not underestimate this part, as this will directly dampen the trust factor; and you may want to clearly avoid this situation for a continued growth of your SaaS business.
3. Customer management – The Lifeblood…
Be a forward thinking person. Spend as much time as possible in thinking what features and services will make your customers happy. It is not necessary that you launch your SaaS application with all the features, but it is important that you plan out ahead the features that you will gradually introduce, since it will be easy to incorporate such specifics in your SaaS solution’s architecture.
Along with the feature evolution, you should also plan out well for providing excellent customer support. It’s prudent to understand that if customers are not happy, then the word of mouth may hinder adoption; and if customers do not adopt your SaaS solution, then your business will starve slowly and die.
4. Get your selling pitch right – The Workout …
Right from the infancy of your SaaS solution, make sure you practice the right selling pitch. Remember, the whole ball game of selling software as a product has shifted to selling software as a service. And when you sell software as a service you need to be prepared for providing customer support, flawless upgrades, data backups, data management, and software maintenance, just to name a few of the things.
Building the perception right at the beginning will help percolate the culture of a “service” provider across your business, and help your employees – right from the sales team to the customer support team – to view the customers in different light altogether. Providing a “service provider” outlook will ensure that every employee understands that each new customer sale is about building up a lifelong relationship, and that they are responsible for nurturing that relationship.
5. Test your pricing model around a small target group – The Allergy Test…
Trying anything new means you test its impact first on a smaller scale. When you are ready to roll out your SaaS solution, it will be a good measure to test out the pricing with a small target group. That’s a very good way of judging if the pricing plans that you have are a bottleneck or not for a wider adoption of your solution. And never forget to give free trial options. If you believe in your product, then be confident. Let the customers try for free, gain confidence and come back to pay for it!
A careful planning – both at the technical level and at the customer management level – will make you successful as a SaaS vendor.
(Photo credit: http://www.office.com)