Skip to main content

5 Best Practices for SaaS Implementation

March 31, 2020

There’s no doubt that software as a service (SaaS) makes great sense for almost any business. But let’s face it, nobody envies the SaaS implementation team. Yes, getting your SaaS up and running can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five SaaS implementation best practices to help you with your new software implementation plan. Read on to boost your team's confidence and create a blueprint for future projects and roll-outs.

1. Zero in on your core need. Put blinders on everything else.

To do SaaS implementation right, follow a simple plan that focuses on the specific processes SaaS will target. Make an inventory and plan with only these solutions in mind, setting aside the “nice-to-haves.” Trying to cram in every nonessential process or functionality only guarantees complexity, delays, scope creep, and added costs—not to mention a possible a team mutiny. Be firm in your project parameters to communicate clear expectations to stakeholders and employees.

You may discover parameters need to change. That’s OK, just adjust your plan accordingly, but not an inch more.  

2. Embrace change like a long-awaited relative

For many companies, “change management” really means controlled chaos. The second way to a successful SaaS implementation is to help your team welcome, not dread, major change.

To do that, detail the steps and behaviors for success that everyone needs to practice and provide a simple communication channel and documentation process. Be sure business stakeholders and implementation teams have approval criteria and provide transparent updates on progress, setbacks, staffing news, and next steps to head off misinformation or rumors.

From the company-wide perspective, remember that any successful technology change requires user engagement and that, for some companies, may take more active encouragement.

3. Empower a team of heroes

The third critical factor to successful SaaS implementation is to give the right people decision-making power. After all, nothing kills project momentum faster than a strict top-down chain of command where decision cycles exceed work hours. This particular pain point not only wastes time, it reinforces this inefficient vertical power structure.

Instead, make it clear to your SaaS implementation team that they’re trusted and empowered—even expected—to make decisions when decisiveness matters. Acknowledge that every decision team leaders make will not be perfect, but should always follow the company values and mission.

Some teams are hesitant to report bad news, which may postpone pain but ends up churning and burning the budget. Encourage members to raise a flag immediately if progress stalls or hits a decision roadblock without fear of disapproval or reprisal.

4. Connect the company through a common language

Engage with and align every team involved before starting your SaaS implementation. It’s not enough to send a company-wide memo. A major SaaS undertaking can potentially involve every department and person, so it’s critical to actively seek and understand what each group needs for strong cross-department partnerships.

Partnerships are only forged through clear, consistent communication and a common language. In outlining plans and expectations that touch the whole company, avoid IT or SaaS-related jargon that may alienate stakeholders and teams or allow room for misinterpretation.

Continually work on improving interdepartmental relationships—they’re the ties that bind you to successful outcomes and lead to a leaner, more agile organization. 

5. Plan and rehearse your go-live support. Repeat.

The final step of successful SaaS implementation is being 100 percent “ready for action” at its launch. One of the biggest mistakes of any SaaS implementation plan is not anticipating or planning for the full range of potential pitfalls during the go-live event. 

Successful teams over-prepare in this area, going beyond what might be reasonable. You can always trim back resources. On the other hand, catching up from behind poses greater risks to business continuity.

Take advantage of interdepartmental partnerships by inviting stakeholders to a brainstorm session and uncover any possible problem-presenting scenario that might arise during go-live. Then put support in place, with both strategy and people, in response to those scenarios.  

Followed closely, these five SaaS implementation steps will help you emerge successfully with a strong team, productive new technology, and satisfied users and stakeholders.