Whatever the business issue that you’re looking to address, you can be sure there’s a software solution out there that claims to solve it.
As both buyers and sellers of software solutions for businesses, we at Gatekeeper are well aware that most business niches are well served with competing propositions.
Taking a recent example, searching for an HR platform reveals a vast number of options, each serving different aspects of the HR process to differing standards.
Some offer comparative strength in the areas of IT & software provisioning, some in performance management and some in recruitment and applicant tracking. Others show competence across all areas.
This is typical in the initial stages of a software search and should lead to certain options being discarded and others being progressed.
Now obviously, your specific requirements will determine to a large extent which companies remain in the running and which don’t. However, you would expect to reach a point in the selection process where you have 2-3 contenders from which to choose.
At this stage, with multiple businesses appearing to solve your issues, one of the key differentiating factors can be the strength of the implementation process.
“Indeed, this is often the key difference between a solution that can solve your business problem and a solution that does solve your business problem.”
The Importance of Project Momentum
The most important thing to remember is that selecting and signing with a software provider does not represent the conclusion of the project.
In fact, signing on the dotted line can actually reduce the momentum of a project, when the most important part of the process is still to come.
Why is this?
Well, often the process of researching and selecting a software partner can be arduous. A lot of time is spent online in the initial stages, calls and demonstrations are conducted and notes are written up and shared. Then there are internal stakeholder discussions, contract negotiations and finally the signatures.
It’s only natural that when the contracts are signed that everyone takes a metaphorical breath and relaxes a bit.
When you consider that selecting a solution for an existing problem is often not the buyer panel’s full-time role, often business as usual (BAU) workloads get backed up and need to be addressed.
Additionally, project personnel can change at this point as Legal, Procurement and Sales might take a step back and the relevant teams on either side move in to work together more closely.
At this point, there’s a high risk that a project can start to drift. If the selection process has been time-consuming, or negotiations have been tricky then it can be hard to pick up the momentum again.
The key issue at this stage is that is that nothing has been achieved yet in terms of gaining value from the software solution. The problem has not yet been solved. This is a pivotal moment in the overall process.
A Focused Implementation
This point in the process is exactly why a detailed discussion around the implementation process should be a priority when assessing a prospective software partner.
You should be asking:
- Exactly what does implementation entail?
- How long does it take?
- Who will lead the process?
- Who needs to be involved?
- What proportion of work will be carried out by each side?
- Will there be ongoing support?
- What reporting on progress can we expect?
And once a contract is signed, you should expect a seamless transition into the implementation process, led by your chosen partner.
Successful and focused implementations should then lead to adoption across the business, which should ultimately lead to a positive return on investment.
The good news is that when it comes to implementation, your interests and those of your SaaS provider should be exactly aligned.
As a customer and key stakeholder, you should be interested in:
- Achieving the short and long-term goals that you’ve outlined in a business case, in a requirements document or during the sales process - the ‘project success criteria’
- Configuring the system, where possible, to suit your exact use case and business structure
- Importing historical data or information as required
- Getting your team and colleagues to adopt the new system, to use it rather than whatever inadequate existing system or process is in place and to see the value of it
- Measuring the impact of the new system
- Reaching a position of positive return-on-investment as soon as possible so you can demonstrate to your stakeholders the soundness of your decision-making
As a provider of a SaaS solution, including a tailored implementation process, we are interested in ensuring:
- You achieve the short and long-term goals that you’ve outlined in a business case, in a requirements document or during the sales process
- That the system is configured, where possible, to suit your exact use case and business structure
- Your historical data or information is imported as required
- Your team and colleagues to adopt the new system, use it rather than whatever inadequate existing system or process is in place and see the value of it
- You can measure the impact of the new system
- You reach a position of positive return-on-investment as soon as possible so you can demonstrate to your stakeholders the soundness of your decision-making
Now, you’ve probably noticed that the two lists are identical. Why is this the case?
It’s no secret, happy customers are loyal customers.
Speaking from Gatekeeper’s point of view, customers who achieve the goals and ROI they set out in their business cases are more likely to renew and continue to help us refine our product to be better over time.
This is why we invest considerable time and effort in our implementation process and team.
While we might work with similar departments and teams in different business, the actual companies we work with come in a huge variety of sizes, industries and geographies.
This means no two customer use-cases are exactly the same.
Under these circumstances, it makes perfect sense to have a dedicated, flexible implementation team, ready to help every customer to value as soon as possible.
In fact, we count the varied nature of our customer base as a strength, as it helps drive meaningful innovation and efficiencies to serve the whole group.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to become bloated with “shelf-ware” over time. This isn’t always because a specific software wasn’t the right choice or couldn’t possibly have worked.
It’s often because not enough time and resource was dedicated in the first instance to setting up the solution in an optimal fashion - to solve the problems and drive user adoption.
As a buyer of software, you should be looking for evidence that prospective partners are committed to making you successful, not just committed to selling you their product.
Remember, a poor implementation leads to poor system adoption, which ultimately leads to failure to deliver expected return on investment. And this is a situation that always reflects poorly on all parties involved.
With a huge choice of SaaS partners available in most sectors, you’re more than likely to find a solution that can meet your needs. Whether it eventually does meet your needs will be heavily dependent on how well it’s implemented across your business.
If you’re interested in managing your contracts and vendors more effectively and experiencing a proven, tailored implementation process, then contact us today.