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Your reputation is at stake during implementation kick-off

December 15, 2021

Imagine you need an operation. 

You choose a surgeon with an impeccable track record. During the initial consultation, they tell you how the operation will proceed, what you must do to prepare for it, and what issues might crop up. Follow my instructions, they say, and everything will be fine. 

You leave feeling you are in very good hands.

As a SaaS provider, your customer is in the same boat. They need your software to grow their business. They’re spending serious dollars here. A failed or delayed onboarding could result in a substantial loss of revenue. And since news of a setback tends to spread like wildfire, your business is at stake too. 

Stressful? You bet. But remember, like the surgeon, you’re the expert in the room. By leveraging project management software custom-built specifically for SaaS implementations, you can show the client exactly how their onboarding will unfold, and that they too are in very good hands.

Here’s how:

Step 1: Taking charge

Sales has done its thing, the contract is signed, and a lucrative Fortune 500 onboarding has been handed over to the implementation team.

Rest assured, this client not only wants, but expects your implementation team to take charge, to be the authority figure, to show its onboarding cred. 

With implementation project management software, you won’t disappoint. Project managers review similar implementations; uncover and track time-consuming delays across their portfolios; and develop a detailed project timeline with built-in delay contingencies. 

They know, for example, how important it is to have the client’s executive sponsor at the kick-off meeting to clearly establish the company’s “success criteria”—from the go-live date to the project’s financial impact and everything in-between.

Client-side IT teams would never think to include a senior, corporate executive in what will surely be a highly technical project meeting. 

But the executive sponsor is the key company representative. They chose you and they have a specific business objective in mind. If/when there are client-side delays—and there will be—implementation software allows you to identify them quickly and then remind the company—maybe even the executive sponsor—that the delays could jeopardize that business objective. 

Problem solved.

As the implementation guru, it’s your job to make sure the success criteria and other key project metrics are clearly defined and followed, right from the get-go. 

Step 2: Project execution

Implementations are incredibly complex and stressful, and clients hate surprises. 

Project management software templates allow you to custom-build the implementation timeline, step by step, key milestone by key milestone, before you even meet with the client. 

Further, using past onboardings as a guide, you can identify and build common internal, client-side business challenges into the timeline. Then, at the kick-off, you explain when the challenges are likely to occur and how you’ve resolved them in the past.

Perhaps the implementation involves a banking client. Your onboarding audits show that banking implementations typically take two weeks longer due to the complexity of the industry’s compliance and security requirements. During the kickoff, your CS manager explains where on the timeline security-related delays typically occur, their primary cause, and ways to plan for and resolve them now—long before they become major headaches. 

Clients love this.

On a more granular level, large organizations must often assemble multiple business stakeholders to approve major steps or milestones as part of the project’s User Acceptance Testing (UAT). Including these stakeholders in the kick-off shows them how important they are to the project and hopefully ensures their participation. 

The client-side project team might not think to invite these folks so early in the process, but you know better. 

Again, the client needs you to lead. Leverage your project management software to identify and address potential problems at the outset, not at the milestone due date.

Step 3: Staying on track

Finally, depending on the project’s scope, implementations can sometimes take a year or more to complete. It’s a high stress job and at some point onboarding personnel will need to be swapped out. 

Hey, it comes with the territory. 

With implementation software you’ve got an up to the minute record of exactly what’s transpired to date and where the implementation stands. No need to sift through spreadsheets and/or emails—it’s all right there. New personnel can literally pick up the baton and run with it.

Which, of course, is the whole point.

You are the expert in the room. Establish the project’s timeline and success criteria at the outset. Then use your implementation software to track its progress, make course corrections, and get that customer across the finish line on-time and within budget. 

Your company’s survival depends on it. 

Learn how the fastest-growing SaaS companies manage the most critical phases of B2B onboarding with our in-depth guide. 

Get the guide “How to Crush Your SaaS Implementations” 


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