Configuration, Customization, and Standardization in a SaaS World
Why should you care about configuration, customization and standardization? Standardization for any enterprise platform is important. It is important because it allows you to scale faster and is very important for time to value. If you have a standard platform you can deploy it in a much shorter time to any industry and any size organization.
Traditional legacy technologies from industry giants like CA, IBM, SAP and others take over 18 months to implement. They require a tremendous amount of customizations; tremendous amount of custom codes thus the 18 plus month cycle. This keeps the customer on a legacy version for a much longer period of time. Companies don’t convert to the latest version until they are 4 or 5 versions behind.
With Enterprise SaaS solutions we are seeing a push towards standardization and a push to configuration as opposed to customization.
Redecorating the SaaS room
Configuration is akin to redecorating the room. Customization is knocking out walls and creating new spaces. The more you can configure, the faster the time to delivery and the easier it is for the customer to adopt. Configuration facilitates integration with existing processes. Faster implementation time so that the time to value for the customers is a lot faster on a SaaS platform. If you have high standardization and configuration you can move to a new version of the platform - literally overnight. With this approach the customer is constantly on the latest version. One of the benefits customers receives, as part of their subscription is they have the latest version and enhancements of the product. They get the benefit of continuous innovation and R&D in near real-time.
SaaS software vs legacy software
The ability of SaaS platforms to provide the latest version to the customers is a key difference when comparing SaaS with traditional legacy software. What we are seeing from an industry standard point is even the larger legacy technology firms are moving into a SaaS environment. The large software vendors are moving their traditional solutions into SaaS. The challenges that they are having is that they have done so much customization with their customers that it’s incredibly difficult for them to build a standard platform. Then to move those customers on to the platform and take into account all the specific customization that they’ve done for the customers. This is the advantage we have as a Innovative Growing Organization. We are able to build the platform from ground up as opposed to trying to rebuild a legacy solution. So by building the SaaS platform from ground up, building it to match the existing processes and capabilities and then expand it to different industries, we are able to build a much more standardized solution for our customers vs. legacy solutions.
Less is More when you build a SaaS platform
The philosophy of less is more is paramount when it comes to building a SaaS platform. We see customers asking for less all the time. The challenge is customers have a hard time figuring out what to give up. That is where we provide thought leadership. Customers are looking for guidance from an industry and practical hands-on perspective. They are asking:
- What are other customers doing?
- What are they giving up?
- What are they streamlining?
One good example is customers are moving from individual time tracking to management allocating their team’s time thereby generating additional productivity. Instead of having individuals do time tracking on a daily and weekly and monthly basis, the trend is taking out administrative burden off the employee and let the managers manage time, let the managers get visibility into supply and demand. This is creating a lot of increased productivity with some of our customers.
Continuous planning is another trend that leading companies are adopting. The trend is to move away from a start-stop cycle for annual planning and move into a more streamline continuous planning process.
What features to include in the Saas Platform
Feature prioritization and selection is a challenge that I think a lot of software companies building standardized SaaS platforms face. What are you giving up? I think when you look at it from a long-term perspective, you start to look at it in terms of what are you gaining. When customers request feature functionality capabilities that we already know may not be useful to them, we step-up and provide the much-needed leadership and guidance to steer them down the right path.
Our goal is to lead customers through a journey of maturity and innovation. Help them make better-informed decisions with real-time data. Reduce the touch points in the process and create a standard that is not only suitable for today but will also support innovation and agility.
We see companies with very complex, clunky processes that inhibit the speed at which they can make decisions. They depend too much on spreadsheets and teams of people to pull data together to make very important investment decisions for the organization. This is not very agile. If your competitors have real-time data they are making decisions a lot faster they can fail faster and self-correct. This makes them much more competitive to organizations that are depending on the legacy, systems, tools, and spreadsheets.
What Inpensa does
We are not recreating the wheel. We are taking what people are struggling to do today manually on spreadsheets and taking data in and out of different systems and we are streamlining and putting it all in one place. It is retraining people with how they manage data from a data entry standpoint, data analytic perspective, data reporting and KPI’s as opposed to introducing new concepts. All are concepts they are familiar with, they have to merge capex and opex, they have to look at ROI for investments, create standardization, optimization, reduce touch points and provide real time data that is accelerating the speed of which they make decisions and make them more agile organizations.