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5 essential considerations for SaaS implementations

Posted By Melinda Starkweather, Wednesday, May 11, 2016


 With 10 years of implementing the YourMembership platform for associations and other businesses, we've learned a few things about SaaS adoptions. Bringing in new operational technology can challenge old assumptions, strategy, positions of power, and ingrained habits, all while opening doors to efficiency, new value and new revenue. This process can be simultaneously exciting and aggravating. When organizations have stumbled during an installation, it is because they did not ask themselves the questions below.


1.     Is your current strategy working for you?

We’ve had organizations tell us that they were finally ready to transition from paper, or a home-grown data-base system to a new SaaS. Great! But if you have a strategic problem, no SaaS will fix that. It’s like trying to go someplace with a bad map. You can change cars, but you still won’t get where you want to be. This seems obvious, but some groups think new technology will solve strategy issues. If your key metrics aren’t where they should be, new tech won’t fix it. For example, we worked with an organization that had lost about 1/3 of its membership in six months because a new competitor offered benefits that the other organization refused to. A new AMS won’t keep members who want innovation.


2.     Does the SaaS work well for your strategy?

If your strategy is working for you---you’re moving the needle in the right direction—make sure that the new SaaS is the best choice for your strategy. Determine your key metrics. How do you want to make money or get members? Find the tool that will make that easiest.


3.     Do you understand all the costs of the change?

Besides the up-front cost of the subscription, what other costs may be necessary to support the transition? Is your network or internet provider up to the task? Will your team need help learning and adjusting to the system? If you aren’t aware of the study of Change Management, take a look and save yourself headaches during implementation. Otherwise solid employees can slow down and disrupt an implementation for any number of reasons. The cost of upgrading technology can often be more than the cost of the subscription.  It may be the loss of a great employee who didn’t get enough support during the change.


4.     Is your staff ready for the change?

Implementing a new technology can mean that your team will have to change how they work, who they interact with, and how they interact with your client base or membership. Your team will need time to learn the new system and time to adjust to doing things differently. Do they have deadlines that conflict with the implementation? Give them a break. Hire some help so they don’t burn out. Make sure that their goals are aligned with organizational goals.


5.     Is your customer base/membership aware of the change?

Organizations often think of of a SaaS change as something their team works on in isolation. Communicate the change to your customer base so they understand the changes in the user experience, however slight. If the new SaaS provides your customers added value, let them know!


Melinda Starkweather, CMP is a partner with Starkweather Association Services, LLC, preferred partner to

She practices and writes about bringing change management practices into smaller organizations.


Tags:  Change Management  implementations  SaaS 

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