Establishing a positive implementation experience is critical to growing your business and protecting your revenue now and into the future. We’re thrilled to share four more must-haves in a scalable implementation process.
The world of SaaS is complex, and your delivery teams are the first to adapt to the customer and your company’s needs. In case you missed it, be sure to check out part 1 of our blog series here where we dive into the first 4 implementation must-haves on our list.
Must-Have #5: Solicit customer KPIs
If an issue slips by and escalates, it could negatively impact your client-side counterparts internally. That, in turn, could undermine the trust and goodwill you’ve worked so hard to establish. It’s critical, therefore, that customer-side implementation needs are also identified at the outset.
How will the customer measure success? How are the client-side project manager(s) being measured internally? What do their constituents expect? In some instances, budget will be paramount, while in others finishing the project before the internal Thanksgiving code freeze will be the top priority.
Identify these issues and build them into the schedule at the beginning of the project, not 10 weeks after you’re underway.
Must-Have #6: Reliable predictability
A key advantage to using implementation management software is its audit capabilities—which allow you to review data from past projects to gradually improve your onboarding processes and establish specific deadlines you know can be made.
As your company grows and your onboardings become more sophisticated, it becomes increasingly important to accurately forecast when the client will go live. Upper management must be able to forecast headcount resources needed to handle the client implementation pipeline, including when and if partners need to be brought in, or subcontracted.
Rest assured, creating detailed playbooks/templates, outlining every team role, embracing regularly scheduled status meetings and incorporating customer KPIs will greatly enhance both predictability and client confidence.
Must-Have #7: Sales + delivery = success
Delivery teams that can clearly and concisely articulate a specific delivery path are often seen by their sales counterparts as valuable assets. Granted, there’s an age-old tension between sales and delivery. Sales sells the dream and delivery makes it happen. But SaaS companies that perform well on both ends tend to encourage strong relationships between delivery and sales.
Think about it. The customer sees a proposed delivery date as possible because the steps are laid out in detail before them. As the successes mount, delivery teams are brought into sales cycles earlier and earlier because they help solidify the sales process.
That, in turn, benefits the delivery team because it has a much better handle on how many projects are in the pipeline, allowing them to forecast their staffing requirements more accurately.
Delivery teams also provide the company with more predictable revenues because they’ve mapped out both standard and non-standard delivery paths. This, in turn, supports more predictable revenue bookings, and overall recognition of revenue—both for sales compensation and recognizing services revenue attached to new client deals.
Must-Have #8: Meeting financial targets
Depending on the development stage of your company, the financial targets for your SaaS delivery team will likely change over time.
Series “A” software companies deploying technology for the first time simply want to get customers live ASAP—regardless of the costs—and build on their initial implementation experiences. As these companies mature, they begin to view the implementation team as a break-even function.
Eventually, however, SaaS companies establish specific margin targets for the department. At this stage, the implementation team may start tracking utilization, on both an individual and team basis. They may develop quarterly financial targets, such as bookings (sale of services to be delivered in the future), revenue (actual work delivered in a quarter) and expenses (cost of the team and other expenses).
Also at this stage, companies may develop compensation programs where a specific part of an employee’s pay is variable. Team leaders will need to decide what outcomes to incent and whether they are measurable or just qualitative. This is often a huge change for a team that had previously been focused solely on the customer experience. Now they need to track (and meet) a new set of metrics.
Implementation management software can help you do that. You can capture and analyze all your step-by-step project data, allowing services to track its transition from generating just enough revenue to cover its implementation costs (net neutral), to ultimately becoming revenue positive. Once those metrics are in place, the software can help you develop and track your compensation program.