SAAS Adoption: Critical Success Factors
Author:Mohammed Ali Khan
IDC predicts that in 2017, 25 percent of Software as a Service (SaaS) implementation projects won't meet cost-savings goals, while 12.5 percent won't meet key business goals.(IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Cloud 2017 Predictions, US41863916, November 2016).
With more than $37 billion spent globally on SaaS in 2016 and even more expected in 2017, the cost of failure is staggering (Worldwide Quarterly Cloud IT Infrastructure Tracker, US41568116, July 2016).
For startups with a limited application footprint, SaaS adoption is straightforward, since they have little or no baggage — less historical data to accommodate, fewer processes to reengineer and less cultural resistance to overcome. But organizations with a significant application footprint and mature processes have a significant amount of pre-implementation work ahead of them to ensure that the right objectives are set and all objectives are met — be they cost-saving goals or business goals.
There are risks to be averted and opportunities to be seized to achieve the right results with SaaS. Here are four key points to keep in mind:
Start on the right foot
SaaS is heavily standardized, with one-size-fits-all functionality, meaning that organizations need to adapt their business processes to the cloud service — not the other way around. The average SaaS project will need more — not less — process transformation and change management.
SaaS adoption calls for engaging key business users, process owners and function heads right at the beginning, to maximize business participation, minimize change resistance and reduce the risk of missed objectives.
Take manageable steps
Often, peer pressure or directives from top management force organizations to implement SaaS on a scale that is clearly beyond their capacity or not appropriate, given the readiness of SaaS for certain processes. Take an agnostic view and look for programs that can be broken into multiple phases in line with your organizational complexity, application footprint, geographical spread, application license and infrastructure renewal strategy.
Using SaaS and non-SaaS packages together, integrated at certain points, can be helpful as companies make the transition, especially considering the maturity of some SaaS packages. An impartial review of an organization’s applications can help identify such opportunities for coexistence.
Find the right partner
Start with advisory services, especially if your environment is complex. For example, CSC’s Consulting arm can help analyze your current landscape end to end and provide a roadmap with clear objectives at each step, as well as options with pros and cons. This roadmap can then be implemented by CSC’s System Integrator organization through its seamless transition plan, without any drop in vision and strategy
Without the right advice and partner in place, organizations that have little or no experience with implementing SaaS will end up owning aspects of the engagement they are not ready or equipped to handle, thereby driving cost overruns and return-on-investment (ROI) losses during the engagement.
Adopting SaaS requires prework in choosing policies, the governance model and the right partners that can put you ahead of the curve with their relevant experience and mature cloud practice.
Focus on governance
Organizations adopting SaaS should consider processes, user experience, governance, policies and current investments. It is critical that SaaS programs include management oversight and comprehensive governance programs to limit execution risk and to take quick corrective measures as required.
For the public sector in Asia, the Middle East and Africa (AMEA), it is critical to make certain that updated policies and compliance approvals are in place to ensure focus and management oversight on project goals.
In summary, consider fit-to-purpose, strategic relationships and institute corporate oversight, standards and governance programs to limit execution risk.
CSC has rich experience in helping clients with their digital transformation journeys and was one of the earliest adopters of cloud technology, including SaaS and the CSC Agility Platform. Our expertise with SaaS transformation starts with consulting strategy and continues through implementation, including transition and change management services.