Preparing Your Organization to Explore SaaS

In my last post, I wrote about the SaaS application delivery model and encouraged organizations to take a serious look at it as a new year’s resolution. I presented some descriptions of what many organizations would recognize as their current state of application systems and gave some brief descriptions of what the SaaS model is and how it differs from that likely current state.
Interested now in exploring SaaS but not quite sure yet how to get started? Here are several ideas to consider, many of which will benefit your organization in general even while enabling you to fairly evaluate the SaaS model:

  1. Assess technical debt in your current system. Ask questions and try to put a cost number on the answers:
    • What is it costing you to own and run your system today? Hint: it will likely be much more than annual maintenance to the vendor.
    • Can you upgrade it easily? Is there modern functionality you are deferring or missing out on due to the complexity of upgrades?
    • What would it cost to shut down your current system? Will it cost more if you wait?
    • If your internal system support/developer resources from IT were freed up to do other work, how could you retrain/redeploy them? Are your current systems preventing you from using your IT resources more strategically within your business?
    • What is the stated and observed direction of your current system’s vendor? Are you potentially facing a planned system obsolescence?
    • Will your current system scale well if your organization grows as currently planned? What if it doubled in size? Tripled?
    • How difficult is it for your current system configurations to handle M&A if your organization bought another organization?
  2. Understand how your organization would benefit by replacing your system, whether through reduced total cost of ownership, increased revenue and/or earnings, enablement of a strategic business or modernization plan, or all the above. One example, if your system is ERP, would replacing your current system better enable you to increase earnings by improving collection rates through your credit practices, or increasing/enabling discounts with modern procurement or AP best practices?
  3. Reach out to other organizations like yours who have either started or completed SaaS implementations. Without getting into trade secrets, most organizations are willing to share their war stories. There is much to learn from what they have to say. Even organizations outside your industry still have important things to say.
  4. Attend your current vendor’s conferences, especially if they are moving in a SaaS direction. In addition to attending scheduled sessions, work with your account rep to set up meetings for you with the vendor’s product development owners. You need to make sure what they are doing and planning would benefit your organization.
  5. Talk to a consulting firm like ours. Believe it or not, many/most/all of us listen well and are very objective. We want you to be successful! We can share what we are seeing in the marketplace, success stories, pitfalls to avoid, and other information that can get you moving forward without fear. We can help you assess your current state and recommend next steps to guide you along the path.
  6. Last, but certainly not least (and maybe highest importance)… Embrace CHANGE! It makes no sense to replace a system yet require that it do exactly what your old system did, with the same people, doing the same things, using the same business practices. Think strategically. Think best practices. Think of it as a fantastic opportunity, not as a necessary evil!