Companies that sell software as a service (also known as SaaS providers) often try to make it seem as if moving to the cloud means everything will be magically taken care of for you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Cloud-based solutions—while providing many advantages—are evolving at a much faster rate than on-premise solutions ever did. It’s therefore vital to take steps to ensure that your staff doesn’t get left behind and your organization gets good return on your investment.
1. Plan for and budget for support. There still need to be resources dedicated to ensuring cloud based applications function well. SaaS providers, of course, typically have support staff but none of these people will be familiar with the entire suite of services you’re using nor will they be as familiar with your business goals. The key is to leverage your SaaS providers’ economies of scale while dedicating enough resources on your side to ensure services are working as hard as they can for you.
2. Socialize your support. Your brand new shiny system doesn’t mean much if your employees don’t know how to use it. While old guard IT professionals tended to see themselves as unapproachable gatekeepers, today’s support experts understand their performance is measured on how well and how much the end users actually engage with a system. As a result, they not only tend to have better communication and political skills than their predecessors, they actually look at engagement as a function of how well systems are performing overall.
3. Consider working with a system service provider. While traditional on-premise support tended to require a lot of staff (and expense) you presumably migrated to the cloud to eliminate some of this cost. Knowing you still need support, turning to a service provider may be the best way to get the most value for your cloud investment while still reducing your expenses. Often service providers can provide you access to an entire team with a broad range of skill sets for less than the cost of one internal full time employee. Service providers also make it a point to stay on top of technology and trends in a way that a more expensive internal hire may not.
4. Ensure your support mirrors qualities of the cloud itself. The people who provide your organization with support should be fast, flexible, and friendly and if it’s a service provider — that provider shouldn’t require a huge upfront expense in order to engage. Finally, much in the same way the cloud evolves more quickly than on-premise solutions, your support resources should see themselves as strategic partners who help ensure that your technology investment continues to add value as they customize it more deeply to your needs over time.
5. Take time for metrics and analytics. One of the biggest values to your business is turning data into information, so the best analysts tend to set aside at least 20% of their time simply to do this all-important research and report back. If your support resources are taking the time to close the loop on metrics and stay well versed in industry trends and best practices, your organization will get great strategic insights on an ongoing basis and have a much easier time staying competitive.