Use Service as a Solution

  |  April 9, 2013   |  Comments

How can companies make sure they're selecting the right tools for their organization, and that they know exactly which investments are required to get the most out of the technology?

As more and more organizations move toward using cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) solutions, a question emerges: How can companies make sure they're getting the most out of their software?

A lot has been written about the total cost of ownership for these solutions. Forrester Research and Demandware recently released a worthwhile report on just that, but it focused largely on technical maintenance and support. But it's very easy to oversimplify discussions about true cost of ownership if you don't look at all aspects, from training and staffing to using the technology on a regular basis. In fact, it's not just about maintenance and technical support.

Many of these technologies offer new and incremental capabilities compared to the legacy systems that came before them. Often, organizations supported those legacy systems with teams. But those teams don't automatically translate into the new technological ecosystem SaaS might offer.

This points to a common issue: while most solutions might alleviate infrastructure and technical support costs, that doesn't take into account the skills needed to manage these emerging technologies, both technically and just as importantly, strategically. And the last thing you want is for your company to invest in software that becomes shelfware because the organization didn't know exactly what was needed to get the most out of the tool.

So how can companies make sure they're selecting the right tools for their organization, and that they know exactly which investments are required to get the most out of the technology? Let's look at two keys:

1. Build resource questions into your RFI/RFP process. While most companies know the right technical questions to ask during the request for information/proposal process (RFP), organizations tend to overlook the more in-depth questions about the required strategic and execution resources, and who will ultimately be responsible for that. For instance, you might have a technical checklist in an RFP (does the SaaS do XYZ? Can it do XYZ for our organization?), but do you have any questions around who is going to use the software? Asking what the provider will be responsible for providing is a key starting point.

This is a really big issue, because often these emerging technologies require someone to manage them who has a different skillset from current employees, and even executives.

Without clear and agreed upon definitions of responsibilities and capabilities at the contract stage, your company could end up buying a solution that requires the organization to need new employees just to manage or run the technology, adding additional costs to your bottom line.

2. Choose the right service option. To truly do due diligence before committing, it's incredibly important to make sure you understand the support you'll get from the software vendor and whether it will meet your company's needs. The fact is, you need to find the optimal process for: on-boarding, ongoing program management, and strategic alignment to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. Often, there are three options:

  • Full long-term support. This is a lean approach that requires companies to rely on the vendor or outside personnel to manage and drive the new technology. So basically, if you want the technology and the services, it makes the vendor an external part of your team that supports the SaaS.
  • Hybrid support. In the early stages, the SaaS vendor will come to your company to run and manage the technology. However, there can be a plan built into the process that includes coaching, mentoring, training, and/or providing insight to properly staff up and get the most out of the software. This is, for my money, one of the best choices because it allows organizations to get up and running as soon as the software is purchased while adding to the intellectual capital of the company.
  • Self-service. Mature organizations may have the resources to run the program entirely in-house, without support from the vendor. But that's a choice the organization has to make with full realization of the resource investments necessary, from both a people perspective and a time perspective.

The bottom line is that when it comes to investing in new software, you should look at both the vendor and the technology as if they are new hires for your organization in order to make the right choice. Are both the technology and the vendor good cultural fits for your company? Do they fit within your organization in terms of your goals? Do they make your team members better? Do they come in and work well with others? Do they bring additional insights and perspectives to the table that will advance the growth of the organization?

Again, being software as a service doesn't mean you should miss the opportunity to really validate the service as a service, outside of just the technology. Obviously, agility at the technical level is a goal for most organizations, but it's important to know which support, experience, and skills you'll need from the first day you bring in this new technology.

Otherwise, it could just end up being shelfware.

Saas Cloud image on home page via Shutterstock.

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!


Nathan Richter

Nathan Richter advises top enterprise clients including Best Buy, QVC, Urban Outfitters, Sports Authority, and PETCO on website optimization. A veteran of digital marketing and online retailing, Richter has extensive hands-on experience helping enterprise clients implement successful multichannel marketing campaigns. Richter has directed online marketing and site optimization programs for David’s Bridal, QVC, The Franklin Mint, and dELiA's.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?


    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora,, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...