SaaS Product Definition
“The only thing that matters is the product/market fit.”
Cloud Strategies works with client’s executives and product management organization to develop the right SaaS product strategy. A company’s new SaaS products should embody the characteristics of modern software and capture new market opportunities for your company – we can help you define these new SaaS products.
Ease of Use and a Consumerized User Experience are Hallmarks of SaaS products
“Box, Workday, [and] Zendesk bake the consumer look and feel into enterprise apps. People like using these apps, and bring them into the enterprise.”
SaaS products are typically contemporary products since they reflect today’s best practices and modern user interfaces. The “consumerization” of IT has lead virtually all end users to expect interfaces that look familiar to their Facebook and other browser based modern interactions. Client/Server software looks dated and is increasingly a reason why legacy software is replaced with SaaS application with modern user interfaces.
SaaS Products should support mobile applications and big data/analytics
Most software companies will also have a mobile platform as a key component of their offering be it deployed on iOS, Android, or even Windows Phone 7 as supported platforms. 79% of mobile developers report that they will integrate HTML5 in their apps in 2012 according to IDC (2012). The need to support a mobile strategy is an important reason to move to a SaaS platform built for mobile support. The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement is rampant throughout the enterprise and even in the U.S. government. That both drives the requirement to support mobile devices and further enforces the expectation of a consumerized user interface.
The product definition should facilitate a “land and expand” strategy
A core tenant of SaaS marketing is to make it easy to provide value without having to commit to the entire installation — the “land and expand” philosophy. The product must be defined to provide early value and delight the user lower lower barriers to “trying it out” without disrupting the existing infrastructure. That means providing functionality that is additive to the current users environment that can be brought into an organization by early adopters without requiring organizational changes (or approvals). Saleforce perfected this strategy with a few early adopters using Saleforce and paying for it out of their expense accounts. This product philosophy requires a modular design where discrete pieces of the SaaS product can be used within an enterprise avoiding organizational barriers of a more monopolistic product — smart SaaS product managers don’t want the battle of displacing existing software (initially), but get their foot in the door and showing great value.
Integration capabilities are essential
Another important aspect of the SaaS product definition is the interface with other SaaS and legacy products. SaaS products generally have published APIs (over half of the Salesforce transactions are performed over their APIs) which together with third party tools such as Dell’s Boomi or IBM’s Cast Iron facilitate the integration with other products. The definition of a SaaS product’s API is an important part of the Product Definition for many markets.
Customers want to be self-reliant driving “customer self-service”
A key tenant of SaaS software is providing the ability for customer “self-service”. The ability to customize, administer, and provide automated end-user help are key to attributes of a SaaS offering.
Product managers need to include the SaaS specific requirements
SaaS product definition will also need to include core SaaS requirements including security, compliance, audit, performance monitoring, provisioning and billing though many of these capabilities can be provided by third party software packages.
Cloud Strategies will work with your team to ensure the product definition reflects the best current practice rather it is a product built from scratch or the evolution of an existing client server technology requiring an evolutionary change during a transitional period.