Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SaaS - Some Food For Thought

Had an interesting conversation with a new SaaS customer this week.  Big enterprise customer, along with an implementation partner, is making the move from on-premise systems for all of their Sales applications and HCM applications to SaaS applications. And they're leaving their financial systems on-premise, hoping to integrate between the SaaS apps and the on-premise apps.  To make the mix spicier,  they've picked different platforms for the Sales apps and HCM apps...same vendor, but obviously different platforms for HCM and Financials.  The approach they're taking is "lift and shift" - we want all our existing processes and reporting to survive the transition.  And they want to go live with Sales and HCM simultaneously...aka "big bang."  Fortunately, it's all in the planning purchases of SaaS yet.  I got called in to provide some advice.

I'm sure you can imagine my muffled screaming while drowning my frustration in Dr. Pepper over the approach this particular customer has planned out.  No need to hash that out here.  But my advice actually turned into a set of questions...good questions actually, which is why I thought I'd share them here.  Here we go:

1.  Can you describe the desired outcomes you hope to achieve by moving from on-premise to SaaS for Sales and HCM?
2.  What synergies do you hope to achieve by transitioning Sales and HCM simultaneously versus taking a staging approach?
3.  Do you have an inventory of your current assets?  Especially the state of your data?  How much historical data to you plan to convert to the new system?  How about a list of current data model customizations and the reasons behind each customization?
4.  Have you considered and examined the business processes baked into the SaaS apps you're considering?  Could the baked in business processes work for you?  And, if not, why not?  Could the gaps be addressed within the functionality of the SaaS apps?
5.  Have you measured how often each of your current reports is used?
6.  What are the metrics that will help you know that you've achieved or fallen short of each of your desired outcomes?
7.  What do your stakeholders - especially your administrative specialists and first-line supervisors - think of this project?
8.  Has anyone attended any training for any of the SaaS apps you're planning to implement?  If so, what feedback do they have from the training?
9.  Who are the C-Level sponsors for this project?  What is the plan for keeping those sponsors engaged?
10.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how willingly and quickly is your enterprise willing to change?  Just gut feel, right now...what's the number?

I had a few more questions that are unique to this situation, but I started with these.  Any guesses on how the conversation went?  Bottom line is the customer is taking a step back to reconsider their approach and the partner is grateful for that (the partner execs had that look on their face that you see when they realized that loss hemorrhaging on a fixed-price contract is about to begin).

Now nothing special came from me here.  Just a few simple questions, most of which we've been kicking around for at least a decade now.  So save your project early...feed your stakeholders some food for thought.

If you've got more good food for thought questions relating to SaaS implementation, feel free to share in the comments.

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