Saturday, October 2, 2010

SaaS is Different

One of the best experiences of my career came at my last company, where I helped shepherd the change from on-premise deliver to SaaS.

It wasn't my idea to move to SaaS -- that was my boss' idea, and it really stemmed from a position of poor leverage.  As a small company, we didn't have enough horsepower to tell the IT organizations of large companies which platforms they needed to support in order to have the honor of running our solutions.  Rather, they expected us to snap-to, and support whatever DB, application and web servers they had standardized on.  And as a little company, we didn't have a prayer of supporting all of the platforms that we knew were out there.  Shifting to SaaS was very much a defensive move, from that perspective.

Once the decison was made, though, it became clear that a lot would have to change across the organization.  It's the breadth and depth of that change that made the experience so fantastic.  And it was the uniquely central position of the PM role that allowed me to play the role of shepherd.

Make no mistake -- running a SaaS business is different, and the differences are pervasive, from the business model through the customer care requirements.  For an organization contemplating the shift, it is incumbent upon every function to ask what they must do differently than they did before to succeed in this new model.  And it's incumbent upon the PM to provide the vision for each function to draw from in answering that question.  The PM is the custodian of a business, and must lead the organization in the direction that will spell success for that business.

I'll start drilling into this premise next time.

All for now,


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