How to Build a Solid SaaS Plan for Your Organization

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In the digital and cloud era, there are countless software-as-a-service applications and many ways you can integrate, customize, and configure them for your business processes. Yet, before any organization — be it a government entity, oil refinery, or third-party logistics firm — starts evaluating online business applications, they should have a SaaS plan in place and understand the tech’s nuances.

Why Are Businesses Adopting SaaS Technologies?

1. Accessibility

Remote and hybrid work styles existed before the pandemic. Yet, the past few years significantly increased employee demand for working outside the office; employer willingness to support it also increased.

According to a 2021 Upwork survey, 28% of the workforce will be entirely remote by 2026. SaaS applications are making information accessible to users from wherever internet connectivity is available. Cloud-hosted software broke down the traditional boundaries of the office, and many of us want to continue to work from home, in customer locations, or wherever our days take us.

2. Security

Many organizations resisted cloud-based applications in the early years of SaaS. Yet, as online application security has increased with better encryption and multifactor authentication, even regulated industries such as oil and gas and insurance are embracing cloud apps.

3. Speed

Wired, Wi-Fi, and mobile network speeds are faster than ever. This gives SaaS applications more speed and more data inclusion so that you can make faster, more accurate decisions.

4. Reliability

Much like security, even leading SaaS vendors used to have a bad reputation for stability and application availability. However, cloud platforms have evolved with better load balancing, disaster recovery planning, and cloud-oriented architectures. Cloud enterprise resource planning (or ERP) applications and data availability are better than ever without the added technology overhead that on-premises applications require.

5. Technological Advancements

In the early days of SaaS, applications were developed with similar methods and coding languages to on-premises software. Fast forward to today, where continuous development and deployment, microservices development methodologies, open APIs, and cloud-native applications (not cloud-based) are making SaaS business applications fast, reliable, and secure.

Holistic Approach to SaaS Adoption

Many companies in industry segments such as oil drilling or pipeline construction have office workers hundreds or even thousands of miles away from core operations, enabling field workers to share privileged access with their head offices. Information such as how their day-to-day efforts to meet standards related to employee safety, equipment health, and production quotas can be easily accessible.

Many companies contract consulting firms for the full lifecycle of vendor evaluation, procurement, implementation, customization, and integration of their SaaS applications.

This is because when companies try to take on SaaS alone, they tend to fall behind their competitors and jeopardize their other business initiatives.

After all, it’s challenging to juggle core responsibilities while implementing new SaaS applications.

Challenges With SaaS Implementation

The reason it is so hard to juggle these tasks is that most cloud-forward businesses run SaaS applications for:

· Accounting and financials

· Collaboration, productivity, and communication

· Data collection, capture, and conversion

· Document and contract lifecycle management

· Project management

· Asset management

· Human capital management

· Analytics and reporting

· Supplier, partner, and customer relationship management

· Marketing, graphic design, and online sales

There are many industries and business-niche-specific cloud applications available on the market. A technology consultant with suitable industry expertise can help determine if cross-industry or industry-specific apps are best suited for your digital transformation initiative.

The Importance of SaaS Plans

If you didn’t create a SaaS plan when you began your cloud journey, it’s not too late. You might learn about some information you should include in your plan by talking to SaaS vendors or consultants. For example, you should think about the following when creating your SaaS plan:

· What goals are you looking to achieve by adopting cloud-based business applications?

· What business processes are you looking to streamline and digitize?

· What are your ideal success metrics for your cloud ecosystem or specific applications?

· What is your annual SaaS budget, and what are your ROI expectations?

· Will you adopt a single interdepartmental ERP platform or interoperable applications from multiple vendors?

· What will your change management process look like?

SaaS platforms can help businesses overcome challenges and optimize processes when structured, implemented, and configured properly.

Integrating the ERP platform with emerging technologies such as blockchain, the Internet of Things, and AI-powered automation tools can accelerate business processes and increase efficiencies.

Three Critical Ingredients for a Successful SaaS Plan

To develop an effective SaaS plan, you need to ensure it maps out:

· How business processes will translate from your on-premises software to cloud-based SaaS platforms. Broken or unnecessarily complex workflows don’t magically become efficient by moving to the cloud.

· Your data scrubbing, cleansing, conversion, and migration processes. Your legacy applications might be storing old, duplicated data in multiple silos. What data will you keep, and what will you delete to ensure you have reliable sources of truth in the cloud?

· What will your decision-making process look like, and who will be involved in project phases such as vendor selection, business process digitization, and the like? Who should be on the SaaS steering committee to work with the consulting firm throughout the project?

Conclusion

Most organizations in industries such as utilities, oil and gas, and financial services have oceans of data but struggle to extract actionable insights from it.

A SaaS plan can help ensure you have the tools to get full value from your data and create important efficiencies, including allowing users to access the right data at the right time and in the proper context of their roles. There is a wealth of helpful information about SaaS planning and execution out there — you just have to find it.

Featured Image Credit: Austin Distel; Unsplash; Thank you!

Vince Dawkins

President

Vince Dawkins, president and CEO of Enertia Software, graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Between 1998 and 2008, Vince worked with industry-leading organizations influencing engineering, IT, and enterprise resource planning solutions. In August 2008, Vince joined Enertia Software as a senior business analyst where he contributed to the design, development, and implementation of an enterprise application for upstream oil and gas producers. Since joining the Enertia Software team, Vince has been integral in nurturing the growth and development of the Enertia application into a resource currently used by over 150 leaders in the upstream oil and gas industry.

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