From a customer’s perspective, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions seem like the perfect way to work around a classic business saying: “You can have it fast, good, or cheap. Pick two.” That’s why the $95 billion SaaS industry will grow nearly 50% in the next few years. Some reports even go as far as to say that 73% of organizations will shift applications almost entirely to SaaS by 2020.
But there’s a problem for those providing digital transformation solutions and services. As SaaS solutions have matured, they’ve become increasingly complex. And with that complexity comes the reality that even seemingly minor configuration changes can wreak havoc from pre-sales all the way through operations to your bottom line.
So many sales and operations teams are making the mistake of trusting traditional configuration management for their SaaS solutions. Without modernizing and automating project configuration management (PCM), you’re putting your bottom line at serious risk.
3 Configuration Change Challenges for Sales and Operations
Traditionally, the SaaS sales and operations model hinged on deep collaboration and manual processes. Your sales team works to understand the needs of prospects and sell services accordingly. Those needs are handed off to engineers for configuration. And once the services are deployed, your operations team works to maintain client satisfaction and collaborate with engineers to make ongoing configuration changes.
But manually coordinating configuration changes both large and small can result in significant challenges for your sales and operations teams, including:
- Getting Quotes to Clients Quickly: All your sales team wants is a simple and quick quote to deliver to prospects. But with increasingly-complex SaaS solutions, they’re constantly being asked discovery questions from engineers trying to get a handle on what must be included in each quote. The sales team becomes an intermediary between customers and engineers that leads to delays in delivering quotes, pushing prospects to your competitors.
- Minor Changes, Major Problems: It’s up to sales and operations to make sure prospects and customers are getting the services they want/need. And sometimes that means making configuration changes at the last minute. What started as service for 500 phones gets updated to 525 phones by a salesperson trying to close the deal. That may not seem like a major change to sales—but on the backend, the configuration change can impact licenses, network integrity, and other technical aspects of the SOW and inevitably degrade service quality.
- Inaccurate Configurations: When configuration management is manual, ensuring engineers are working off of the right information can be a challenge. Half the time, services go into effect with configurations that don’t match the services promised to a customer. Even if you have processes in place for discovery and qualification, engineers can see ambiguity that leads to inaccurate configurations.
The top-line impact of these challenges is that you’ll have unsatisfied prospects and customers that believe that you did not deliver on your promises. Whether a prospect gets frustrated by the time it takes to receive a quote or customers aren’t given the services they expect, these top-line consequences of poor configuration change management will lead to bottom-line costs that quietly hurt your business.
The Impact of Configuration Changes on Your Bottom Line
For all the benefits of a SaaS model, the transition away from traditional hardware-based services puts real pressure on your margins. In the past, you could sell $150,000 worth of hardware with high margins on installation services. Now, those same services come in a software package at a fraction of the cost to customers, compressing your margins in the process.
The services included alongside your SaaS packages mean everything to your bottom line. Configurations are based entirely on the pricing and scope of the work described by sales and operations. Upselling a customer on a new product feature or service is great—but only if that upsell is accompanied by the appropriate configuration change. And all too often, you end up providing services that were never rolled into the pricing for the original configuration.
Over-delivering on services can mitigate some of the top-line consequences of poor configuration management. But these gains for customers come at the expense of your profit margins.
The high costs of poor configuration management for complex SaaS products often lead sales and operations leaders down one of two paths. On one hand, you can give your sales teams free reign to quote prospects accordingly. But this results in inaccurate quotes and revenue losses as you set unclear expectations with customers.
The other path is to set strict rules for the sales process. In theory, this path could help ensure operations teams receive detailed discovery information that leads to accurate configurations. However, if the discovery and qualification processes become too complex, you risk having sales focus their efforts on lower-value, easier-to-sell products.
Rather than trying to choose between these two less-than-ideal approaches to configuration management, you can automate the end-to-end process and protect your bottom line.
Solve Configuration Management Challenges with Smart Discovery-Driven Automation
It’s tempting to point fingers when configuration changes start to negatively impact customer satisfaction and your bottom line. Sales focuses on the frustrating discovery and qualification processes while operations say they weren’t given all the necessary information. But finger-pointing isn’t going to help you sell more of your high-value SaaS solutions.
Customers are looking to hire experts. They want to believe that you have all the answers and that you’re asking all the right questions to ensure you’re delivering a configuration that will maximize their results. Meeting those needs means simplifying and automating project configuration management.
By employing a software solution that uses smart automation – beginning at the earliest discovery stages – you can tie all components of an SOW and proposal together and ensure that any configuration changes are documented and carried through to the final product. Discovery-driven automation will use workflows as its starting point for configuration management. With SalesDoc Architect from CorsPro you will:
- Drive solution configurations based on answers from the beginning of the sales process
- All-at-once automate solution configurations, including labor, software, licenses, and professional services
- Turn your quote file into the central receptacle for configuration, labor, output content, etc. Changes to the quote are programmed to flow through to update application settings, hardware requirements, labor hours, pricing, professional services. and documentation.
Watch how you can use discovery-driven automation for your technology proposals and statements of work with SalesDoc Architect. Or for a deeper dive, contact us to schedule a live demo of SalesDoc Architect.