Deployment Model For SaaS Solutions

 © Ralph Pettit November 2016

Abstract: A deployment model is presented for the successful introduction and implementation of new product release or change management initiatives. Deployment Plan key activity descriptions and WBS are provided. Although the application presented here is a SaaS multi-client subscription software solution, we may generalize the principles (with some rigor) to any business application or vertical.

 

SaaS Deployment Strategy

The SaaS deployment strategy for a client focused subscription service for sales and channel marketing is built into the marketing plan with a focus specifically upon the end-user (client) engagement and value proposition.  The economic value is assumed to be quantified in your Business Plan and as part of the initial sale of service. This requires that the deployment team has a thorough understanding of both the SaaS Solution(s) offered as well as customer operations, workflow, demographics and behaviors: That is, those persons who will determine your Solution (or initiative) success. At best, if it fails, heads fall; at worst, you lose your company, integrity and investors: Proceed with Caution.

 

Deployment Scenario Basics

It is important that the marketing and operations sides from both entities collaborate and understand the prerequisites for success. These are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) upon which metrics and service levels are based and feed the business balanced scorecard (BSC). There are two BSCs: Your Client’s and Your Company (as the SaaS Service Provider). The Deployment Plan we are discussing here is for client engagement. There is a subset of the Plan which may be used for the B2B Product Sales Team training. This orients the sales team using the same KPIs and key practice activity information discussed below: Yet is delivered as a separate company proprietary training platform.

Your Champion Sales Team has achieved client capture (enrollment) threshold (say 60%) defined in the Regional Marketing Plan. Assume that represents 85 different business entities and 250 personnel. Your SaaS Solution has a primary B2B marketing channel, accounting for 70% of the client’s ROI (your subscription service is FFP, recurring) and value stream. There are four (4) supporting (also B2B) channels which provide added functionality, capability, ease of operations which can be either integrated or autonomous from the primary channel.  The Solution suggests a multitiered structure for the Deployment Plan which looks like this:

PC1 (Core)

SC1

SC2

SC3

SCn

The deployment strategy presented may be applied to any Solution for business (although the complexity can vary significantly) whether a multi-tiered ERP Solutions for a Fortune 50 company, or a single primary channel with a small, private managed healthcare operation.

The Deployment Plan is structured to manage two outcomes: The (1) (software) product release to Client; and (2) client end-user acceptance (use) of the (new) product Solution.  Keep in mind that the end-users are people working in an established culture, which may or may not be made in heaven: The job of the Deployment Plan is to make it Heaven. To do this you need a Deployment Project Plan. That Plan is based upon Deployment Plan Key Activities. 

 

Deployment Plan Key Activities

Identify Solution Outcomes for The Client. The business Solution outcome metrics are the prescriptive part of the Deployment Plan built from the KPIs to provide the delivery structure and content for the Plan. The actual collection (validation) occurs during operations, but they provide the framework for the Deployment Plan. These may include revenue generation, time to completion of task, ease of use (UX), parametric/non-parametric data, transaction processing (Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier N), collaborative db use, and growth/decline volume. Success metrics allow comparison between pre- and post-implementation performance, cost and ROI/ROA of the Solution for your client. Your Program Account Manager and Quality Management Team is responsible for proactively monitoring and reporting these metrics.

 

CRM Key Success Metrics. These are the CRM/Customer Satisfaction ratings vs. SaaS (business) Solution Outcomes: Although the two are closely linked it is the CRM feedback loop and data integrity we emphasize here. CRM Success Metrics consist of both business metrics and system R&M performance service levels. The metrics are both parametric and non-parametric affecting the BSC. The SaaS Solution will track and report both business and system metrics. The incident management team and system identify, resolve (RCA) and prevent (CA/CAR) including remediation and change management. Input from the Help Desk incident report/call report and client management are incorporated as part of the CRM input to the BSC. Your Deployment Plan shows the importance and continuity of our CRM Key Success Metrics through the Quality Management System.

 

The Client Business Environment. The positioning of your SaaS Solution within the business environment for client operations determines how you structure the deployment plan and training modules.  It is one thing to be part of a corporate-backed global change program; and something quite different when your Solution is new and proposed to replace an existing solution. Your customer, SMEs and process experts help mold the target population predispositions and the deployment approach and timeframe to optimize successful acceptance and use. This is integration of your SaaS Solution into the business culture.

 

Target Population Characteristics. The Deployment Plan is focused upon the client target population for the end-users of the Solution. The individual and team characteristics include skill level, motivation, incentives, intellect, responsibilities, culture, biases, all which frame the training content and delivery strategy. Identify key client personnel using the Solution for login/password issuance (commitment) and tracking/reporting metrics at the onset of training and operations.

 

Develop a Deployment Communication Plan, The Communication Plan details the timeframe and schedule for the Deployment Plan. This is key to capturing end-user buy-in to the Solution: It requires commitment and a “word” from both Client Champion Executive and the Supplier Executive embracing the Program Collaboration.  It should be clear, crisp, open and up-front regarding expectations, outcomes and resources, including mentoring and Help Desk support. Note that, depending upon the purpose and level of the Deployment Plan and number of independent client subscriptions, the Communication Plan may reference (leverage) the Supplier Regional Marketing Plan key milestones (e.g., market penetration, application utilization, unit criteria, financial incentives, global roll-out) to consolidate client participation integral with the SaaS Solution Supplier.

 

Deployment (Training) Structure. The training structure is built using tailored ISD with both knowledge and skill behavioral objectives tied through the job task analysis (i.e., workflow analysis) and KPIs. It is a hierarchy with the Core Primary Channel (PC1) Training Module at Tier 1.  This is the Core Solution content required for the implementation into the business operating model. It includes detail related to PC1, with introduction of the SC Modules.  Keep this to under 1 hour for our example.  For more complex PM cross-functional collaborative training I have dedicated 2-4 hours lecture/interactive for this level: It all depends upon your goals and complexity.  The target population (as individuals) have to understand the Solution “key take aways”. To do this as the Deployment Lead you need to: “Win the crowd”.…(Gladiator© 2000.)….to ensure their allegiance, and your success.

Secondary Channel (SC1-SCn) Training Modules (Tier 2) – These are the Tier 2 (support) product solution modules and are developed as part of the overall Deployment Plan. These follow the same guidelines and KPAs as the Primary Channel training. Each stands alone with clear functionality and interfaces to the total Solution. The emphasis here is that the SC1-SCn modules are only identified (touched upon) in the PC1 Training. Each Secondary Channel training stands alone and has a unique schedule as a subset of the Deployment Plan schedule. 

 

Key Personnel Roles & Resources. Standard PMBOK® as we put the team together which will consolidate our SaaS Solution work on the product into a comprehensive, easy to use customer training package. This is systematically developed with a multi-disciplined team culled from experts on the solutions team, client and support areas: PM, Account Manager(s), Industry SMEs, Solution Architect, DBA, QA, Training, BPA.  You need the client for critical path gate review/acceptance of the delivery content contained in the Deployment Plan. Budget WBS resources include personnel, travel, ODCs and CRM with contingencies until completion of the Deployment Training milestone and transition to operations is complete.

 

YOUR Company Success Metrics. These don’t appear specifically in your Deployment Plan, but each task you have identified in that Plan must needs to be understood by your project team how the task contributes to your business success. We us a modified RACI model for KPIs to accomplish this. It ties into your Business and Marketing Plan objectives, program schedule, EAC and internal (or) external milestones (e.g., Win/Capture). They are part of the Mission Assurance (Quality Systems) input to the BSC.

 

Deployment Plan WBS.

The WBS is presented as standard waterfall. Actual tasks, schedule and resource detail is determined from the specifics identified in the Key Activities and  budget for the Project.  A four (4) level WBS is recommended. The top two (2) levels are shown below: An experienced project team and SMEs can iterate requirements and content through the pilot up to the point of going public with the Deployment Plan training delivery. You need, and want, customer buy-in throughout, preferably through a gate-review or Agile-like milestone process.

 

Deployment Plan WBS Task Activity Chart

 WBS         Task Activity

1.0   Understand Target Population End-User

1.1   Client Key Personnel

1.2   Profile End User Characteristics

1.3   Entry Level Skills & Behaviors

1.4   Typical Workflow (related to Solution)

1.5   Incentive Model

1.6   Business Culture

2.0   Build Communication Plan

2.1   Message Content & Release Schedule

2.2   Distribution/Access (email; portal; log-in)

2.3   Help Desk Availability

2.4   Prepare Message Content & Review with Client

2.5   Specify Enrollment Instructions/Record for Participants

2.6   Prepare Deployment Orientation Schedule to End-Users

2.7   Identify Client SaaS Solution Initiative Champions

3.0   Knowledge Transfer End-User Analysis for Training

3.1   Job Position Workflows (JTA)

3.2   Workplace Environment

3.3   Key Factors to Success/Acceptance

3.4   Existing Systems & Tools

4.0   Training Program Rollout

4.1   Curriculum Training Structure & Schedule

4.2   Publish Deployment Orientation Plan Schedule for Account Distribution

4.3   Structure Curriculum & Delivery Mediums

4.4   Training Objectives and Outcomes

4.5   Prepare Instructor/Web-Based Deployment Training

4.6   Pilot Training & Revise

4.7   Conduct Training per Communication Plan Schedule

4.8   Revise Delivery/Content (as required)

4.9   Repeat WBS 3.0 and 4.0 for Other Modules (SC1-SCn)

5.0   Continuous Improvement

5.1   Transition to Account Management

5.2   Account Facing & Follow-up (Lessons Learned)

5.3   Service Level RCAs & CARs

5.4   Identify/Publish Help Desk & Web Support Channels

5.5   Incident Management Team

5.6   Monitor KPI Use/Metrics for Client & Service Provider

 

Summary

The Deployment Plan is the cornerstone for employee engagement, product success and business value. It is a key milestone for any SaaS product introduction, or strategic change initiative, which provides the framework for the Solution transition to operations. It is a systematically developed plan focused upon capturing, communicating and transferring system and end-user outcome behaviors to those individuals responsible for applying the Solution daily in their business operations.