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The SaaS Implementation Guide: Best Practices for Success

Author: Melissa Scatena

Published: May 13, 2024

Last updated: May 13, 2024

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SaaS tools promise to make your entire organization more efficient and profitable — but this is only possible if your team actually uses them.

Let's be honest, more often than not, teams invest in new tools and then the excitement quickly fades, the team never properly adopts the tool and everyone reverts back to their original habits. Most teams are often more comfortable with existing processes and resistant to change.

So, how can SaaS providers ensure successful SaaS implementation? The solution lies in your  implementation process which begins with serious implementation planning. If you do a good job introducing your team to your newest software as a service tool, they’ll be much likelier to use it on a daily basis. We've put together the ultimate saas implementation guide to help your team succeed.

What is SaaS Implementation?

SaaS implementation refers to the process you use to introduce your team to a new saas application. It generally involves four steps

  1. Creating a roadmap and aligning with the company's business objectives and existing systems to ensure the chosen SaaS solution delivers maximum value
  2. Aligning on overall implementation objectives
  3. Choosing an employee to oversee the implementation
  4. Onboarding team members to the new software
  5. Leading the change management process
  6. Tracking product usage and adapting as needed

Following a step-by-step process like this will help your company get maximum value out of the new SaaS tool as quickly as possible. It can streamline workflows, reduce your costs, and help with productivity.

To understand why successful implementation matters, imagine if you took a different approach instead.

You purchase a new software product and tell your team to learn how to use it themselves. It would undoubtedly take longer for them to get up to speed and many employees would grow frustrated. This could make them resistant to using the tool in the future, which means the company wouldn’t get as much value from it.

Who is responsible for SaaS implementation?

Software implementations fall under the responsibility of various stakeholders within each organization depending on how your teams are setup. Typically, the responsibility rests on SaaS implementation managers who are usually a part of customer success or customer onboarding teams.

For SaaS customers (especially in larger companies), they may have project managers who specifically oversee the implementation of new tools for their organization. In this case, they would define the project scope and manage the entire process from initiation to completion for the customer's team. These project managers work closely with the sales team leader, who holds a crucial role in identifying the need for a new system and initiating the implementation process.

The sales team leader, with their insights into customer needs and market trends, plays a pivotal role in defining the project scope. Their understanding of client requirements ensures that the implemented SaaS solution aligns closely with customer expectations.

Once the project scope is determined, the implementation manager takes charge of coordinating the efforts of different teams involved. They serve as the central point of contact for all stakeholders, ensuring clear communication and smooth workflow throughout the implementation process.

What does a SaaS implementation manager do?

A SaaS implementation manager is a key player in ensuring the successful deployment of a new software system within an organization. Their primary responsibility is to oversee the entire implementation process, from initial planning to final execution.

One of the main tasks of a SaaS implementation manager is to define the project scope in collaboration with the sales team leader and other relevant stakeholders. They work closely with project managers to establish clear objectives, timelines, and deliverables for the implementation project.

Additionally, a SaaS implementation manager is responsible for coordinating the efforts of various teams involved in the implementation process. They serve as a liaison between different departments, ensuring that everyone is aligned with the project goals and working towards the same objectives.

Throughout the implementation process, the SaaS implementation manager monitors progress, identifies any potential issues or roadblocks, and takes proactive measures to address them. They also keep stakeholders informed about the project status through regular updates and reports, ensuring transparency and accountability at every stage of the implementation journey.

Three Types of SaaS Implementation

As you begin thinking about how to implement your new SaaS solution, there are three primary types to consider for successful software implementation. The best option for your SaaS solution can depend on your company size, current business operations, and the complexity of the tool you’re trying to implement, especially when configuring an entire system in the context of enterprise SaaS implementation.

1. Self-Guided SaaS Implementation

If you have a small company or a simple SaaS product, you may be able to handle implementation entirely on your own. This is the most cost-effective option, but it doesn’t always work.

A self-guided implementation can backfire. For example, you might try to implement new software on your own only to frustrate your team and dissuade them from using the product. Even if you hire a team for support after this happens, the damage may already be done.

2. Enterprise

Enterprise-grade software as a service implementation is usually built around the unique needs of the company. These businesses have large, complicated tech stacks requiring a custom software implementation plan. Adding a new tool can be a very complicated process.

Enterprise implementation strategies usually include things like:

  • SaaS procurement process and business requirements
  • Training for key stakeholders
  • Understanding existing business processes, existing tech stack
  • Discussing key metrics and key performance indicators
  • Customized integrations with existing systems, tools and databases
  • Specialized employee accounts
  • Ongoing support and training relevant team members
  • Data migration and data security for existing data

This is the most expensive option because it’s so customized. But it’s only something you’ll need if you work in a very large company.

3. Hybrid

Hybrid SaaS implementation will be the right strategy for most businesses. It combines elements of self-guided and enterprise SaaS implementations. For example, the company you buy the product from may have a self-paced guide you can follow with help videos and support from real people when you need it. 

You might also use a platform with customizable workflows and task libraries like OnRamp. Our platform is highly customizable and generates deep insights into the onboarding process as employees complete it in real time. This can help you make smart adjustments when necessary to get the results you want.

How To Implement Your SaaS Solution using SMART Goals

As you work through your SaaS implementation checklist, one important item will be setting SMART goals. This means choosing goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Creating an 'implementation roadmap' that incorporates SMART goals is essential to guide the SaaS implementation process effectively.

Here’s how to do that.

Specific

A specific goal is one that you can define precisely. For example, you don’t just want to implement a new software tool. You want to implement the new saas platform in a way that improves lead conversion rates or customer support outcomes.

Measurable

Your goals should come with concrete, measurable objectives. That could mean converting 30% more leads or improving customer support scores by 10%.

saas usage

Achievable

Next, make sure the goals you set are achievable. They can be ambitious. But if they’re not realistic, they may cause frustration, angst, and SaaS implementation failure. Make sure you are providing key resources to customers so they can complete tasks independently.

Relevant

Also, be sure that the goals you choose are relevant to business needs and align with broader company-wide objectives.

Time-Bound

Finally, set a specific time period in which you hope to achieve the goals you establish. That could mean getting your full sales team to start using the new software daily by the end of the quarter or improving lead conversion rates by a set percentage within the next 12 months.

Successful SaaS Implementation Process Best Practices

Here are a few additional best practices to keep in mind as you embark on your SaaS implementation project.

To ensure a successful implementation, it's crucial to have a dedicated implementation team that not only tracks the progress of your SaaS implementation but also manages the customization and integration. This team plays a pivotal role in building each SaaS implementation plan, monitoring each implementation project, ensuring that your business leverages the full potential of the SaaS platform, following implementation best practices and identifying opportunities for upselling.

Effectively implementing SaaS solutions is essential for companies aiming to stay competitive and achieve their business objectives in t he rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Track Everything

You can only improve something if you track it. For SaaS implementation, that often means analyzing how long employees take to complete each onboarding step and when they reach out for support.

Focus on Customization

Everyone learns in their own way. Your onboarding procedures should reflect that with customizable paths that support employees who learn at different paces.

Leverage Onboarding Platforms

Onboarding platforms make it significantly easier to track SaaS implementation across your organization. They also include helpful customization features so you can adjust your process to meet the diverse needs of different employees.

Look for Upsell Opportunities

If you sell SaaS products and want to standardize how they’re implemented, make sure you look for a few upsell opportunities. For example, you might include an offer for 24/7 support in a part of the onboarding process that customers traditionally struggle to complete. This can help you capitalize SaaS implementation costs to become more profitable.

The Bottom Line

SaaS products are often very expensive. You want to make sure you get the best return possible on these investments. The way to do that is by creating a better SaaS implementation strategy. Customer relationship management (CRM) is a prime example of a SaaS solution that can deliver significant value when properly implemented. The importance of SaaS adoption cannot be overstated, ensuring that SaaS solutions are fully integrated and utilized within the company.

A detailed SaaS implementation plan is essential to guide the successful rollout of SaaS solutions, highlighting the role of the SaaS provider in supporting the implementation process through scalable solutions and robust support. SaaS solutions offer businesses benefits including flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Managing relationships with a SaaS vendor is crucial to ensure high business value from SaaS adoption. Finally, a comprehensive software implementation plan is a critical component of a successful SaaS implementation strategy.

OnRamp makes that much easier to do. Our all-encompassing platform guides customers through each step of the implementation process with customizable playbooks to meet their diverse needs.

You also get detailed analytics and data tracking so you can refine your process quickly as often as it takes to reach your goals. Get in touch for a demo to learn more about how we can help.