SaaS aims to make life easier for CIOs, but itís amazing how many organizations still manage to screw up critical SaaS deployments. Knowing how to spot and avoid common SaaS pitfalls is essential for ensuring a smooth rollout.
SaaS is designed to help businesses save money, maximize productivity, and give end users convenient access to advanced and up-to-date software. At least thatís what everybody says. Yet many SaaS deployments fail to meet even these fundamental goals. Getting a SaaS project off on the right foot is essential for creating a deployment that will satisfy the needs of IT, management, and end users.
The best way to avoid deployment headaches is to know what youíre doing and where youíre heading. This sounds almost ridiculously simple. Yet many CIOs, due to insufficient knowledge, workload pressures, and other issues, manage to turn what should have been a painless deployment into a project that might have been scripted by Stephen King.
To compensate for poor planning, harried CIOs often opt for the solution thatís best known or has the most persistent sales team. But thatís putting your priorities backward. Instead, base your SaaS initiative on the task, not the product. Conduct a needs assessment to identify and clarify the issues the solution will address. Since software is a tool that supports your business processes, it is vital to understand what your organization truly needs before beginning the selection process.
Read the contract
Itís surprising how many businesses sign up for SaaS without ever reading the contractís fine print or, in some cases, even the big print. Many SaaS contracts are tougher to read than C++ code written in lemon juice, so itís not surprising that many CIOs arenít eager to tear through the document. Instead, they depend on the dubious insights supplied by colleagues, co-workers, and, worst of all, the providerís sales reps.
Unfortunately, many sales reps donít fully understand the contract, either. Even when they do know whatís locked inside the dense text, they may not be eager to share many of the darker details with their customers.
Not knowing whatís in the SaaS contact can lead to all sorts of headaches created by escalation clauses, renewal terms, upgrade policies, performance benchmarks, connectivity guarantees, and dozens of other issues. It doesnít take much imagination to envision some of the dire consequences of contract ignorance.
If you canít or wonít read the contract yourself, find a lawyer who will guide you through the document and point out any onerous terms you may wish to negotiate before signing.
SaaS can be a big money-saver, thereís no doubt about that. But many businesses head into SaaS deals with entirely unrealistic return on investment (ROI) estimates. While a worse-than-expected ROI wonít directly affect SaaS deployment, it can lead to some uncomfortable moments in the executive suite and, for a few CIOs, an earlier than expected retirement.
Fortunately, getting an accurate SaaS ROI isnít difficult. It basically boils down to recognizing the cost difference between leveraging a single traditional inside-the-datacenter application and leveraging an identical or similar application on demand. Given typical datacenter replacement cycles, you only have to compare the three-year costs of hardware, software, and operations against the subscription-only cost of the SaaS. The two sets of numbers will tell the truth. Resist the temptation to embellish the results.
There are many other ways to mess up a SaaS deployment,including inadequate testing, poor training, and bad support. Yet all of these problems pale in comparison to the three biggest pitfalls: poor planning, contract ignorance, and unrealistic expectations.