Balancing the 'S' Equation in SaaS…

Aug 20, 2019 • FeaturesSoftware & AppsFieldAwareSaaS

FieldAware’s Marc Tartarsky explains what field service companies should expect from the software companies they are working with...

The global software market has gone through a revolution over the last decade caused by the accessibility and scalability of cloud applications. Cloud, and specifically, SaaS (software as a service), have driven this change through lower costs and faster implementations.

According to Right Scale’s annual State of the Cloud Report for 2019, 91% of businesses use public cloud, and 72% use a private one. Most enterprises utilize both options – with 69% of them opting for a hybrid cloud solution. Many more are making plans to move additional systems to the web, including moving their core business processing software.

If you are not familiar with what SaaS is, a quick Google search will reveal a definition and many of the SaaS advantages. As a baseline, here are some of the well-known and documented technology benefits you can expect to realize from using cloud software for your Field Service Management platform:

• Lower costs, faster ROI;
• Faster implementation and easy upgrades; 
• More flexibility, scalability, and accessibility; 
• Enhanced security and backup.

There is no questioning the value of the software side of the SaaS equation. However, even with all these benefits, some organizations still do not reap the full impact of SaaS when they purchase a new cloud-based FSM platform.

Why is that? Well, in actuality there are two 'S' in the SaaS equation – software and service. 'Service' typical explains how the software is delivered. Another definition for “service” is the full scope of the capabilities a technology provider brings to bear for clients to ensure an end-user organization is successful.

After working for more than 25 years in the IT and software industry, I have learned that matching the technical capabilities of a solution with an organization’s underlying business need is critical. However, the more significant determination of long-term success is the “service” a technology partner provides throughout the customer lifecycle.

So, if this is true, what “service” factors should a technology provider be evaluated on?

What is the Service portion of SaaS?
There are some vital services a SaaS FSM Platform provider must excel at to help field service organizations achieve the promise of quick time to value. These include:

• Robust & Accessible Research & Development (R&D);
• Integrated Client Service Teams;
• Knowledge Management & Transfer Methods;
• Continuous Training & Support.

Let’s take a closer look at these service factors to understand how each can ultimately impact your long-term success.

R&D
A robust R&D organization is fundamental. Having significant and ongoing investment in development to ensure the solution is continuously improving and expanding is essential. Along with this investment, an R&D organization must be accessible and exposed to the customer base. This transparency ensures the solution and new features are based on actual needs and use cases. A technology provider’s R&D organization should not be in a silo. It should systematically gather and incorporate client feedback for product and feature enhancements.

Client Service Teams
Technology providers should have well established and defined client service teams such as Presales Services, Implementation and Professional Services, Customer Success, Training, and Support. These teams should be engaged at every step of the customer lifecycle to ensure success.

Beyond just engagement, these teams should operate in “lead-time” vs. “lag-time” mode. “Lead-time” mode means that they are integrated throughout the lifecycle and create hand-offs before any single phase is complete.

Operating in “lead-time” mode ensures each team is knowledgeable about the client’s business well before their activities fully take shape. This coordination eliminates any “lag-time” between phases. Lead-time mode speeds up knowledge transfer and hand-offs.

Knowledge Management
Beyond the clear capital savings, one of the best values of working with a technology provider vs. building an in-house solution is access to the provider’s best practices. After working with hundreds and thousands of clients and processes, standout technology providers create a library of best practices.

Appropriately integrated client service teams can methodically collect and share best practices, ensuring end-user organizations will reap the rewards. The results will manifest throughout the organization in better service and support, as well as improved product features.

Training & Support
Continuous training and support bring it all together and is an essential capability of any world-class technology partner. Every company is on a field service maturity journey. As products and businesses change, field service teams will need help to navigate and take advantage of the evolution.

Training and support, in conjunction with a “lead-time” based customer success team, will help ensure your field service organization is always getting the most out of your investment.

SaaS - backward and forward
Organizations are at different stages along the field service maturity journey - both from a technology and operational perspective. As companies aspire to improve and make the changes necessary to achieve ongoing success, their requirement to balance the “S” in the SaaS equation ebb and flow. It is critical for long-term success for these organizations to partner with a technology provider that understands the dual role of “S” in the SaaS equation. It is equally, if not more important that the provider fully invests in the “service” elements of SaaS.

Marc Tatarsky is SVP, Marketing at FieldAware
 
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