In the past year, organizations have embraced newer ways of working for improved collaboration among customers, suppliers, and employees. Per Forrester, 57% of global IT services decision-makers have already invested, or plan to invest, in SaaS as part of their organization’s digital transformation strategy. Clearly, SaaS vendors have consolidated their position as key enablers for digital transformation and business growth.
SaaS applications have grown dynamically in features, scale, and popularity due to on-demand access to resources and their ability to handle a variety of enterprise capabilities (ERPs, CRMs, and office suites), portfolio capabilities (document storage, HCM, finance tools, HR solution), and point solutions (productivity tools, IT tools). But for organizations to optimize these SaaS investments, they must give thoughtful attention to the operations management and, in particular, the support models.
Capability Stacks Drive the Support Model
SaaS application support varies depending on the solution model. The archetypical SaaS portfolio typically includes one of the following three capability stacks, with the operational support model varying based on the type of capability.
These applications are mission critical for business operations and require high levels of data security and compliance. Enterprise applications are likely to have a large user base and are heavily customized with complex functions hosted on the cloud. In most instances, these applications may not be any different from traditional enterprise application, such as an ERP solution, except that the application is now in the cloud.
In this case, the scope of support is limited to specific business units, departments, or teams, largely with a limited number of users. For example, HR SaaS solutions are specific to HR departments and have a targeted audience. These applications perform end-to-end HR functions and various configurations are required to perform the day-to-day workflow of HR personnel. The technical support team should be able to perform various tasks like integration support, workflow adjustment, and troubleshooting of existing functionality based on the requirements from the HR team.
3. Point solutions
These applications can improve employee effectiveness and productivity but do not influence the business directly. Typically, they are acquired by smaller teams with a small user base, such as application performance management solutions that are specific to application performance monitoring and business-transaction tracking. These solutions will be used only by the IT teams to enable proactive and predictive application operations.
Choosing an Optimum Support Model
Depending on the capability, user base, complexity, and budget, companies can choose from any combination of support models:
- Dedicated support – A dedicated team is assigned to a particular customer with all the skills required to support the application landscape.
- Shared services – Shared teams collaboratively support multiple customers, projects, or business units.
- Application Operation Light (AO light) – This team is responsible for basic support activities and simpler tickets with the SaaS vendor providing technical and functional support.
- Full Stack PODs – POD units that have full stack talent aligned to business capability or value streams.
- Horizontal teams – A centralized team with common skills supporting multiple applications, spread across business units for a particular customer.
The Evolving Role of Service Partners
To maximize their return on investment, companies often look to support partners for “one-stop shop” service and an operational layer between them and the SaaS application vendors. Yet the role of a service partner is changing. A next-gen AMS partner should provide both performance-improvement enablers to deliver targeted business outcomes and support service solutions to boost operational performance. Additionally, partners should also be responsible for a resilient governance model to ensure business as usual and to optimize the contract and cost management.
From a performance improvement standpoint, a next-gen AMS partner must now offer an integrated model that combines application development and maintenance with cross-functional services and embedded DevSecOps for seamless collaboration. A Digital Command Center (DCC) should provide centralized teams operating 24x7 to proactively monitor critical applications. And AIOps – Artificial Intelligence embedded in the operations model – must help build an enduring business experience by leveraging predictive analytics and machine learning to correlate business and IT events.
In terms of support service solutions, a next-gen service partner must offer solutions designed to improve the overall performance of the business. These can be broadly grouped into three categories aligned to the client’s business objectives: Operate and Optimize, Evolve and Expand, and Invest and Innovate.
- Operate and Optimize services will assist companies with the daily technical operational duties that improve performance. These services include application lifecycle and end user support, application lifecycle and end user support, production support and break fix, functional and technical support, and application upgrade support.
- Evolve and Expand services extend beyond the basic support services. These services include building new integrations to other systems, new configuration/customizations, support for mergers and acquisitions, security and workflow support, and support for company growth and employee population growth.
- Invest and Innovate services help companies remain competitive in the market. These services include application strategy and roadmap, new module assessment, and business process optimization assessment.
Putting it All Together
This strategy has helped many companies maximize their ROI from SaaS investments. In one example, an electronics and healthcare company with worldwide operations had a complex SaaS-based CRM suite involving more than 50 implementations across 52 countries. Support services combined the dedicated and shared services models for operational management. Wipro helped the healthcare company consolidate instances and effectively supported the core global sales and service solution, enabling a 10% reduction in support costs year on year, a 15% reduction in ticket volume, and a 20% improvement in deployment time.
With the right enablers and solutions, companies can accelerate their digital transformation and achieve their strategic goals. By leveraging the experience and expertise of a next-gen partner and support models, companies can attain optimum benefits and maximize the ROI from their SaaS investments.
About The Author
Sr. Consulting Manager, ADMS Large deal solutions, Wipro
Ashutosh is senior consulting manager with 19+ years of experience, and is currently leading ADM solutions for Wipro’s Nordics and Benelux business. He is a certified PgMP program manager and has spent 10+ years delivering large global programs for various US clients. He has expertise in program management, process standardization, defining new ways of working, DevSecOps, and cloud strategy.