It’s Time to Expect More
A funny thing happened on the way to maximizing the value of our MDF and Incentive Platform. We started to realize that there were a lot of folks with different ideas of what SaaS is, and the benefits that be gained from a SaaS platform.
Technically the definition of SaaS is simple: “any software application that is not located on your premise.” That is a pretty broad definition and fundamentally most of the suppliers on the market meet the high lever requirement.
The interesting question is what do you get from a SaaS model? That is where we see a broad array of offerings. For us and others, it all came down to customization through configuration versus engineering. And by that, I mean that the setup, implementation and ongoing configuration changes can be made quickly and efficiently with drop-downs or check boxes by support teams or the customers themselves. It has been enlightening to listen to many who assumed that this is what you get with a SaaS offering, while the truth is far from it.
Having personally lived through having hard-coded individual instances for every client, I can attest to challenges of having to have engineering pulled in to setup new programs and make existing program changes, from both a time and a cost perspective. The good news for the market is that CCI and others are working hard to flip the balance from 95% engineering and 5% configuration, to 95% configuration and 5% engineering — and in many cases 100% configuration. This process can be slow and painful to say the least, building configurability without losing flexibility takes time and effort, however, I believe it’s ultimately worth the investment for all involved, and worth supporting your suppliers who are have made this jump or are headed in that direction.
So when evaluating vendors who have SaaS offerings, here are thee good, short questions to ask (beyond “does your application run in the cloud”):
- Is the platform customizable through configuration? If so, how much? You should be able to get configurability from set up to program changes, like adding new partners, even adding new funds or programs.
- Is everything that is demonstrated in production? Roadmaps are necessary, but what you see on the demo is what you should get.
- Can the platform be rolled out in less than 90 days? If a platform is truly customizable through configuration, the time to market should be fast, even for integrations like SSO.
There may be some homework involved in getting a truly configurable SaaS solution, but well worth it if you are looking for fast to market, ease of scale in terms of both time and cost. The benefits of a customization through configuration SaaS solution are real.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven Kellam, President at CCI
As a growth specialist, Steven is responsible for driving CCI’s evolution to expand its offerings and grow across its product suite, utilizing marketing to position the organization for continued, long-term success. He is also responsible for developing the strategic alliances necessary for CCI to achieve its revenue and profit goals, including technical alliances, service partnerships and sales relationships. Steven has experience in both the VAR space, having run a successful managed services IT business, and a background in manufacturing where he built a channel of over 2,000 partners.