Maybe I’m simplifying things to say that for the Enterprise, the biggest change that Software as a Service brings is a matter of technical delivery. In that I mean it removes the task to install and maintain the software itself. But I believe that even if you are offering a SaaS solution, the need remains to understand business flow and integration with other systems in the enterprise.
We all agree that SaaS has totally disrupted the software industry. Many of the things that were a part of a traditional rollout of a software solution are simplified, automated or simply gone. In the consumer space this is especially true – where SaaS solutions often provide a quick and easy same-size self-serve solution for individuals.
This belief that SaaS has made everything simpler is so strong in people, that I often hear them add that that it has also removed the business case for a SaaS company to offer Professional Services.
But a quiet voice inside of me says that to think that the Enterprise wouldn’t pay for added services with a SaaS solution, and then not planning on including it as part of your offering is actually leaving money on the table. It’s probably leaving that opportunity open to outside Consultants to capitalize on.
My intuition is drawing a parallel to the early days of software development, when most of the technical manuals coming out of engineering teams were focused on installation or were basic administration references. For the larger customer who paid for a services project to install, configure and integrate the system into their business, this documentation was largely useless. Projects often included deliverables for things like custom operations manuals and a handover activity to their IT support teams. More often than not, the Services team training task meant getting an SME to deliver hands on training because the documentation and standard training was just not up to the level the customer needed.
It took a while for the software industry to realize that it needed quick start guides, role-based training, use-case walk-throughs … And to change what they included as part of the out-of-the box licence delivery. Maybe we have to learn again to focus on what is needed to enable the customer to fully use our product, rather than just a focus on how the customer purchases and receives our product.
Even though my criticism might it imply this isn’t being done today, it is. There are a number of SaaS companies that have responded to this Enterprise need and are including Professional Services as part of their offering.
Box is a company that provides cloud based solutions for secure file storage, sharing and collaboration. Their professional services teams offer a robust set of services that help integrate Box into the company, train people and even help with the migration of existing documentation onto their service.
Gainsight is a company that provides a product that enables companies to perform Customer Success activities around tracking, interacting and transforming customer relationships. Incidentally, a product used by a lot of successful SaaS companies. The Gainsight onboarding service they provide takes weeks – though they also offer a shorter express version. They work with customers to setup users into business ownership roles, configure rules for metric collection, and to baseline reporting.
Speaking of Customer Success – you find the Marketo consulting services team services on the Customer Success tab on their website. Here you find things such as Enablement (their word for onboarding the customer and having them perform their first successful campaign), Expert Services and Training.
So before you completely dismiss the need to offer services alongside your SaaS solution… consider it well, and decide whether that’s the right strategic move for your company. Profile the customers that you are trying to attract and what they require. Then size your services offering to match your target market’s needs.
This post was originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse April 15, 2015.