Allowing Your Clients to Drive Your Product

From my years working with SaaS platforms, I have noticed one common trend; the danger of Software as a Service to slowly become Software as a Slave.

At the rate that technology is advancing, the public is generally under the assumption that there is nothing that code cannot do. While that may be true, clients and owners alike should understand that in programming and software development, like astronomy, is an on-going science.

This means that while the limits of what we can do with software is unlimited; much of it may still be unknown. There are consistently new programming languages developed, for example, the recent emergence of Sass, or Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets, saw a great improvement in webpage load speed.

So why is it important for those running a SaaS company to be aware of the common misconceptions of what technology can do?

Software as a Service is generally set up as a pay per use product. This means that your business is no longer just about signing up an account and getting that one time (or maybe two payments) squared away after project goes live; Software as a Service is about maintaining an on-going relationship with your clients and being “open” to their requests and needs.

This means that as a salesperson or an account manager at a SaaS company with a global platform, your job is to set your client’s expectations of the CURRENT limits of technology. To your clients, YOU are the expert. While you may come across high maintenance clients who think that you have computer wizards up your sleeve who can deliver anything they could possibly want, it is still your job to educate these clients on what is currently possible and what is not.

In my time working with SaaS companies, always in Projects or Support presence, I have seen account managers or sales being talked into promising features and functions that cannot be deliverable within the time frame given. As a result, the company as a whole receives the reputation of a company that cannot deliver quality on-going service.

At that certain point, the company has to make a choice and change their business model to letting development drive improvement rather than relying solely on client requests. At that time it would benefit the business to invest in Research in technical advancements so that the company is advancing its technologies on its own without relying on client prompts.

After all, it is better to have a service ready before clients even hear about it rather than to have your clients tell you they want something that you don’t already have. It is also better for the growth of your company to rely on internal structure rather than solely on customer needs.

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