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Does SaaS mean no implementation services are required?

July 15, 2011

I’ve been following a “Does SaaS mean no implementation services are required?” thread over on LinkedIn. There’s a very wide spectrum of understanding among the posters, from novice learners to those who really get it. Of course the answer is…

“It depends.”

Hell, gMail, Facebook and even amazon are SaaS apps that need very little “implementation” other than basic demographic information, but when you get into the world of business process automation like ERP, SFA or Workforce Management, some degree of implementation is always required. As a business differentiates itself from competitors, it creates an operational uniqueness that often needs to be accounted for in IT systems so that competitive advantage is preserved. That includes things like unique supply chain processes, creative sales comp models or liberal time-off policies. The point is, the software has to be configurable (preferred) or customizable (less so) to build the differentiating business rules, workflows and processes into the software. That’s where true SaaS gets tricky. The software needs to be rich enough so an organization can configure (checkboxes, rates, ranges) rather than customize (write new code) a multitude of processes, so that they can enjoy the benefits of “easy” upgrades across a vendors entire customer base. If you choose SaaS and have to customize code you’ll have challenges…

As we evolve our solutions to extend the advantages of “the cloud,” we’re delivering the best of both worlds, rich functionality and worry-free upgrades. Our flagship product has over 30 years of workforce management wisdom built into it. Just about 100% of business rules related to workforce management can be configured in the software and customization is rarely required. Our people really know the domains of timekeeping, scheduling HR, payroll and the like, so their value is helping organizations optimize their configurations and workflows for competitive advantage. Oh, and we also help our customers achieve success by training them well and managing the organizational change enterprise software introduces. Plus, all this richness can be delivered and managed via our cloud services. That helps customers be unburdened by system and database management activities, software updates and upgrades.

So if a SaaS provider of software that’s really going to impact key business processes in your organization touts, “no implementation,” you really have to question that claim or how much business value the software will actually deliver.

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