The ultimate SaaS implementation plan

SaaS Management

Discover the seven critical steps to include in your SaaS implementation plan, and use them to ensure your next software rollout runs as smoothly as possible.

Vendr | SaaS Implementation
Written by
Vendr Team
Published on
January 12, 2023
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Implementing new SaaS tools can be a time-consuming practice that sucks time from other projects. However, it’s a necessary aspect of SaaS procurement, and it occurs each time a business purchases new software. Proper SaaS implementation requires building Integrations with existing software tools, managing risks to data and privacy, and carefully monitoring adoption among stubborn users. You need a documented and repeatable process for all these aspects to occur successfully and efficiently. We explain the seven critical steps to include in your SaaS implementation plan and detail how to use them to ensure your next software rollout runs smoothly.

Seven essential steps for implementing SaaS

1. Determine who owns the implementation

Most department leaders know precisely what they want from a software platform and can easily purchase one without engaging the procurement team. However, some companies prevent this by implementing purchasing policies restricting software buying to the procurement team. Regardless of whether the department team leader or procurement manager owns the purchase, what's important is that the same person or team always manages the implementation of these new software tools. Utilizing an implementation manager helps mitigate maverick spend and reduces the possibility of paying for software tools with overlapping feature sets (like two teams procuring separate project management apps).
The implementation manager is typically part of the IT team. They then collaborate with other teams on the software rollout, such as with a sales team leader responsible for training their staff.

2. Set implementation and utilization goals

Next, determine the key goals and metrics that allow you to monitor progress and measure the success of your new SaaS platform implementation. Clearly define:

  • The scope of the adoption, including any features or undertakings that aren't within the scope of this implementation
  • The implementation timeline
  • Expected utilization levels at various intervals (three months, six months, etc.)

3. Design a rollout and training plan

Use the goals and milestones you've set to design a roadmap for rolling out the new software tool and training relevant team members. For example, implementing a new CRM (customer relationship management) platform to be used by the marketing, sales, support, and success teams is a large-scale rollout. A good approach might be to stagger implementation across the teams, rolling it out to sales in February, support in March, etc.

Some organizations might wish to break this down further if departments are large enough to make a full-team implementation difficult. You might, for example, stagger the CRM rollout to your sales team based on territory. This plan should also include details on how to approach training. For instance, will the training be the domain of the department head or the IT leader responsible for SaaS implementation? Will this training be conducted in a group or individually, in person or online? Answer these questions in your rollout blueprint, so all stakeholders and team members know how education will occur.

4. Organize vendor implementation assistance

Depending on the scale of the implementation and the SaaS vendor from whom you're purchasing, you may be able to organize assistance from the implementation team at your supplier's company. The extent to which they'll be able to help will vary, but you may be able to outsource aspects of the implementation process, such as:

  • Data migration
  • Training and user onboarding
  • Custom integrations with other service providers

Before diving into your software implementation plan, determine which areas they can assist. For example, having a true expert in the given tool run training sessions with your team or getting team leaders up to speed to do the same might be helpful. While at it, define your service level agreements (SLAs) for customer support.

You'll likely need to reach them for assistance while implementing a new SaaS application. Ask:

  • When can we access support? Is it 24/7?
  • What communication methods will we have? Email, phone, video, chat?
  • Will we have a dedicated support rep?
  • Within what period can we expect to hear back on support tickets?

5. Complete data migration

The first step in implementing a new SaaS solution is data migration. Suppose you're moving over from a similar tool—such as switching from one cloud computing platform to another. In that case, your new SaaS provider may be able to assist here, as they'll likely have previous experience doing this.

Ask about their data security measures to reduce SaaS security risk. If, on the other hand, this is an entirely new technology for your business, you may need to manually migrate data from existing business processes (spreadsheets, for example).

6. Build initial tech stack integrations

As organizations become increasingly software-dependent, SaaS tech stacks are proliferating. As a result, the average company uses 110 software solutions. To optimize business operations and minimize tedious manual work, it is a good idea to use a combination of native and custom integrations to connect different tools in the business.

Block out time in your SaaS implementation plan for developing tech stack integrations, and include ample space for testing and bug resolution. Depending on the size and sophistication of your existing software stack, it may be wise to roll this out in phases. For instance, phase one would involve working on the most business-critical integrations. This allows you to quickly move on to training and roll out before returning to finalize the remaining integrations.

7. Focus on feature adoption

Sourcing the right software platform is one thing; getting your team to use it is another. Focus on adoption at the feature level to increase license utilization and get more for your money. Rather than trying to implement all features simultaneously, which can often be overwhelming, start with a handful of the most critical functions. Ensure your team nails these features first, then train and upskill on more advanced features later.

Let's say you're implementing a new CRM. You might train your sales reps to use simple pipeline functionality, send emails, and make calls from within the platform. Once they've got this down, move on to more complex tasks like designing automated lead nurture sequences. Monitor license utilization in your SaaS management platform and focus on those who aren't quite getting the hang of it. Create shareable resources, store them in a knowledge base that individuals can access as required, and hold one-on-one training sessions for those who find adoption particularly difficult.

Manage SaaS suppliers with Vendr

Buying SaaS products is not a one-and-done affair. Once your implementation plan is complete, move into a vendor management process to ensure everyone meets contractual obligations, and that supplier performance and risks remain carefully monitored. The most effective procurement, IT, and finance teams use a SaaS buying platform like Vendr to manage all of these processes and to take advantage of powerful software purchasing features like

  • Approval workflow automation to speed up procurement and ensure compliance with internal purchasing policies
  • Overlapping spend analysis to identify areas where licenses can be consolidated
  • Price benchmarking to improve contract negotiations and ensure you're not paying more than you need to
  • An audit log of all licensing, provisioning, and purchasing decisions to improve compliance and reduce IT risk
  • Sourcing assistance from a team of SaaS buying experts

Find out how much you could save on your software stack with our free savings analysis.

Vendr Team
Vendr Team
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Vendr's team of SaaS and negotiation experts provide their curated insights into the latest trends in software, tool capabilities, and modern procurement strategies.

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