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In a SaaS-Powered World, Change Is the Only Constant

Companies need to implement software-as-a-service apps at a fast pace without disrupting the business or compromising security. Here’s some advice.

It’s widely accepted that SaaS is the fastest way to transform your business for significant gains. We find that while our customers have, on average, over 110 SaaS apps in use, larger enterprises are using over 400 SaaS apps. Those numbers are up over 35% from the previous year. The pandemic was an additional shove toward a cloud-only approach.

The problem is that constant SaaS implementations can be disruptive. There are tradeoffs between scope and speed. Security risks mount as vendors are added, the cloud infrastructure becomes more complex, and more apps spawn more data silos. When technology innovation is handled more coherently, though, the atmosphere improves, and the business is likely to receive the full value of new app deployments.

Transforming the digital enterprise entails tradeoffs: Do you take in all suggestions, or favor a top-down decision on which SaaS apps to use? There is a productive middle ground between the extremes. Your company’s EPMO (enterprise project management office) can help develop standard practices for transformational change.

Add Departmental Tech Reps

A starting point can be to assign a technology representative for each department. The technology representative’s responsibility is to recognize where applying technology change will pay off, collect ideas, make recommendations, convey the department’s needs to IT, and help guide the process. Their work will reduce the number of expensive cross-functional meetings needed to coordinate projects. It will also help IT understand each department’s goals and the processes they use.

Build a Culture That Can Tolerate Ambiguity

Employees need a mindset that lets them work comfortably in the new world disorder, where extreme makeovers don’t faze them. Use your technology reps to help them navigate through the uncertainties. Clearly, it’s better when new technology can be leveraged across the entire organization, and departments end up with comparable technical and operational capabilities.

Implement Standards for SaaS Adoption

Standards make it easier to take a company-wide perspective and run all transformation projects with the same cadence, using a familiar template. For example, marketing might implement a marketing automation system because someone coming from a smaller company happened to like it. Their tech rep could remind them to take a broader perspective, however, which could lead to a smarter long-term decision.

Reconcile Data Across Apps

Questionable data and conflicting metadata spell trouble for data warehouses trying to ingest the data from all the new applications and make it available. IT must make available enough resources and bandwidth to handle the workload, whether it’s 10 SaaS deployments per year or 200. A large warehousing operation that we worked with suffered from a shipping error rate of 20%, due to inconsistent data imported from internal siloes. Once data specialists could dive in and correctly match data and definitions, they were able to consolidate order and inventory data into coherent and actionable information, the center quickly achieved close to zero shipping mistakes. Use your Tech Reps to leverage internal ideas and manage change proposals that are data heavy.

Conclusion

Companies need to implement SaaS apps at a fast pace without disrupting the business or compromising security. Since change is an imperative every day, your objective is not to “finish change” -- rather, it’s to make ongoing change normal, manageable, and low risk.

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