SaaS Providers Aren’t Always Experts

Written by
Chris Browning

River Leads the Way as a Full-service Mentoring Solution

There are a whole host of SaaS (Software as a Service) vendors, providing an assortment of viable solutions for businesses.  That said, buyers should work to clarify what they need from their SaaS providers and then identify the vendors that can meet their needs.  The “Service” in Software as a Service simply means that the software is being provided as a service to the buyer (e.g., the buyer “subscribes” to the software, which is hosted on the vendor’s servers).  It does not necessarily mean that the vendor is providing additional services to the buyer.  In other words, some SaaS vendors are simply providing software and nothing more.

That being said, as SaaS continues to evolve as a business model, increasing attention is being paid by the market to those organizations that can truly consult around their solution.  (By the way, consulting is not just having a help desk).  In other words, buyers are sometimes looking for expertise in addition to software and some vendors are capable of providing it.

The difficulty for several vendors is that one cannot become an expert in their field of practice by deciding that they “want” to consult on it.  This is where a number of SaaS solution providers come up short.  Anybody at the top in their respective field (e.g., athlete, musician, business advisor) did not get there through self-identifying that they are experts.  They got there by honing and proving their knowledge, skills, and abilities over time.

Best of the BestRelated to the point about expertise in one’s field of practice, smart and successful SaaS companies also innovate their solutions forward.  In order to maintain long-term success in their market space, SaaS companies cannot take a “once-and-done” approach to their solution.  Unfortunately for many SaaS organizations, they don’t hire experts in their field and subsequently find innovation quite difficult, if not impossible.  A number of SaaS solutions have a successful first launch of their product (notice I said product and not solution) but then cannot maintain any type of momentum because they are incapable of innovation.  While one indication of innovation is the regular release of new versions of software, don’t mistake multiple releases as the only sign of true originality and improvement – sometimes those multiple releases could be solely focused on fixing the problems of the previous versions.  Buyers should look at the “innovation track record” of vendors that they are considering.  They should ensure that the vendor dedicates time and resources to making their solution better and that historical results of such efforts have resulted in improved solutions for that vendor’s customers.

At the end of the day, buyers should do their homework on SaaS vendors that they are considering.  Are they truly experts in their field or do they just have slick looking software?  By understanding what to look for in a Saas provider, you can effectively ask questions to get a sense of whether you are speaking with someone who simply sells software or someone who provides a business solution.  Speak with a potential vendor around their evolution as a provider; probe into their expertise and track record of innovation.  If it simply isn’t there, well then, buyer beware.

River is proud to be a thought leader in the area of mentoring. Check out our consulting services to get a better sense of who we are and what we can do for you with our mentoring solution.

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