SaaS Implementation: What are the Essential Steps to Implementing it?

Joydeep Das

Senior Writer:

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green tickPublished : November 16, 2022

SaaS (Software as a Service) has been adopted by a staggering number of organizations in recent years. The reason for such a huge adoption rate is that SaaS applications offer improved accessibility and faster deployment. However, implementing SaaS in your organization comes with its own set of challenges.

SaaS tools are still new to many and need to be implemented and managed effectively for the desired effects. Through this blog, we will look at SaaS implementation and several associated best practices.

What is SaaS implementation?

SaaS or Software as a service implementation is the process of adopting and integrating a software application into the existing workflow of a business. Implementing SaaS into an organization is a complex process and requires prior assessment of business objectives, budgets, limitations, benefits, and more.

Implementing SaaS into any organization fabric requires prior planningSource: EnterpriseTalk

SaaS implementation can be initiated in an organization once a plan is created for software to be adopted. During the SaaS software implementation/onboarding stage, the client company informs its third-party vendors about their expectations, internal processes, objectives, and timelines. Similarly, businesses need to learn crucial details about vendor procedures to ensure that the new SaaS operations tool integrates with their existing IT infrastructure.

What are the Best practices For SaaS Implementation? 

Several best practices are to be followed for successful SaaS implementation in an organization. These SaaS implementation best practices allow you to get maximum value out of the software adoption process, reduce risks, and archived the desired objectives.

1. Establish Ownership

SaaS applications are easily and widely available today, and with growing digital literacy, any employee can procure SaaS tools without notifying/getting approval from their IT teams. However, since anybody can become an application owner, the possibility of shadow IT, duplicate or overlapping applications, and increased spending increases significantly. Hence, organizations must assemble a dedicated software implementation team to successfully lead the implementation.

For smaller organizations, there must be a software implementation team of at least two, consisting of an acting administrator and a training head for the new system. The acting administrator should be an IT expert having experience working with vendors, while the training lead must help the team with concerns or queries about the software.

For larger organizations, there needs to be a much bigger team consisting of an implementation project manager, a functional lead, a technical lead, and a person/team taking care of chain management. This group of experts, the acting administrator, and the training lead are often referred to as the ‘steering committee.’

2. Roll-out plan with goals

Teams, owners, or stakeholders of a Software as a Service implementation project must create a clear implementation roadmap where they can set objectives and metrics that help them gauge the success of software implementation. The SaaS implementation plan should also dictate which departments/teams should be the first to adopt the new tool and by when.

SaaS implementation roadmap & stepsSource: SketchBubble

A SaaS management platform is the simplest and most effective way to keep track of the roll-out plan and its objectives. In addition, such a tool helps track how well the new SaaS solution is being utilized and what progress has been made.

3. Encourage user adoption

Once the SaaS adoption plan has been rolled out, it is important to keep track of the SaaS implementation process and encourage departments to utilize the new software. Employees must understand how their participation would help the organization and the benefits it would bring them. A SaaS utilization tracking tool can help understand the usage patterns of each team or department and help identify who needs additional training or encouragement.

SaaS Usage Metrics for six monthsSource: Leanix

4. Track adoption

Keeping track of SaaS usage helps you understand whether or not the implementation could be successful. They can also help you adjust your SaaS metrics and SaaS implementation plan , helping you reach your objectives in due time. Adoption rates can also be checked across departments and teams to identify which users are struggling with it and why.

5. Identify the impact on business

It is also vital that you identify the potential impact of the SaaS application on your business, both in the long run and in the short term. For example, the application’s influence, adoption rate, progress, and setbacks should all be documented to understand how the new tool is affecting your business performance, efficiency, finances, and company culture.

By understanding the ground realities of the application’s impact on operations Strategy (especially if the SaaS application has replaced entire business processes), teams, and services, you will be able to understand if the adoption of the software will be beneficial to your firm or not.

6. Continuous improvement and optimization

After the SaaS application has been implemented successfully and certain vital criteria have been met, you should look for ways to improve and optimize the solution to benefit your firm. This ‘observation phase’ is the time to monitor the application and look for necessary improvements. Taking help from an enterprise architect in such scenarios would allow you to derive the total business value from a tool and optimize SaaS spending.

SaaS solutions are evolving continuously, and you may realize midway through the process that another solution would be a better fit for your company. This is your time to reevaluate and take a call on which tool would help you achieve your objectives. Even after making a decision, you should periodically review the application in use, especially before its renewal period. This would allow you to figure out the right amount of SaaS licenses needed for your staff and get rid of unused SaaS applications.

10 Essential Steps for Implementing SaaS

Let us now take a look at some vital software as a service or SaaS implementation steps to be undertaken by organizations for successful adoption and favorable results.

10 crucial SaaS implementation steps:Source: CogniSaaS 

1. Compare On-Premise and SaaS

Before implementing a SaaS program in your organization, you should evaluate whether you are better off with an on-premise solution. On-premise deployment has its own advantages and challenges and could be better for certain business models and domains.

Factors like the viability of a SaaS application in your IT infrastructure, licensing issues, vendor support, storage capacity, data security constraints, accessibility, and flexibility of the SaaS model must be analyzed and compared before opting for SaaS implementation.

2. Identify Requirements

Understanding end-user requirements and your business are of paramount importance when choosing a SaaS application. A clear idea of your project parameters, the scalability needed, and the challenges you are likely to face can help you immensely in successful implementation. Thus, it is best to seek advice from experts and end-users about the features and capabilities needed before the software implementations begin.

3. Encourage Employee Adoption

No matter how groundbreaking your SaaS application is, the ultimate result will be a success if departments and employees adopt it properly. Therefore, it is best to get your team involved and make them aware of their role in the grand scheme.

Along with proper Employee Onboarding training, should encouraged employees to come forward with their queries and concerns regarding the application. Ensure all employees are comfortable with the new solution and can operate it skillfully.

4. Procure Scalable SaaS Components

Having scalable SaaS components that are compatible with your business model can be a boon for SaaS adoption. A scalable, credible, and well-networked infrastructure with a robust data center, backup facilities, and monitoring tools must be prioritized. Once the implementation infrastructure has been designed, you should focus on procuring components/functionalities that need to be added to your application for the desired outcomes.

5. Consider Bandwidth and Hosting

SaaS applications rely heavily on connectivity. Hence, you must select a service provider that can accommodate your hosting requirements. Ensure that there are multiple connectivity points to the host data center for your application so that there are no constraints to the availability of services.

6. Evaluate Performance and Quality

All developers believe that their application is the best, and in test conditions, most of them do perform well. However, you must check if your end-users are also having a similarly positive experience with the tool. This can depend on factors like bandwidth, the optimum point of delivery, Software integrations, etc. Make sure that the tool offers the same level of performance and quality that you desire, even when you/your employees connect from multiple locations.

7. Ensure Data Security and Management

Data security and privacy are of paramount importance when implementing a SaaS application. If your organizational data and intellectual properties are not safeguarded during storage (data at rest) and transfer (data in transit), it will spell doom for your business.

The company behind the Saas product must provide details about the security level at its data centers. They should also help you configure access rights and roles similar to your on-premise solution and offer customized saas security for all your projects.

8. Investigate Disaster Recovery Solutions

Accidents and disasters can occur at any given moment. Hence, it is vital that your application has a disaster recovery mechanism that allows it to be accessible to customers at all times. In addition, there also needs to be a quick turnaround time for restoration in case an outage disrupts the services.

9. Assess Customer Support & Monitoring

The availability of quick and quality customer support should also be checked during the SaaS implementation process. Most SaaS vendors nowadays offer omnichannel customer support and help keep track of critical events. The application/support team must also allow you to monitor consumption patterns, storage, events logs, and other components like network, database features, etc.

10. Analyze the SLA & Documentation

The Service Level Agreement (SLA) document is a vital piece of documentation that must be checked carefully before signing any contract. It clearly defines what the SaaS vendor is offering, its associated conditions, and the consequences of a failure. This will help you know what you are getting into and hold the vendor responsible in case of any diversion from the contract terms.

Build Exit Strategies (Bonus Step)

Now that you know how to implement SaaS, you should also create a proper exit plan should you want to leave the SaaS service provider at any given time. The exit plan should contain the following:

  • An implementation roadmap for returning to on-premise or other SaaS solutions
  • A strategy to recover the data stored in SaaS
  • Details of the migration process
  • Details of additional costs involved (if any)

SaaS Implementation FAQ's

SaaS solutions must be implemented after careful analysis and consideration of organizational goals and requirements. Successful SaaS implementations require collaboration between organizations and solution providers and between companies and their staff.

The duration of SaaS implementation depends mainly on the application's objectives, the solution's complexity, and the size of the organization where it would be implemented. For example, enterprise SaaS implementation can take several months, while smaller applications can be implemented in a few weeks.

SaaS implementation can be made faster by providing better training to end-users, improving coordination between business stakeholders, and defining clear vendor-customer roles early in the implementation stage.

SaaS is hosted on cloud servers, which means that it does not need to be physically implemented on your premises/systems. SaaS is ideal for large and distributed organizations that exchange and transfer data frequently.

Inadequate SaaS implementation can lead to data not syncing with CRMs due to integration issues. This happens when data is not updated across all associated systems in an organization.

Updated : December 20, 2022

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