No matter your project or mission, having the tools for the job is essential to success.
If it feels like getting a new piece of software in place takes forever (for instance, if it delays projects or causes internal friction) it's time to look at the reasons why.
When it comes to SaaS buying slowdowns, there are some usual suspects to address first. Most issues are related to communication, buy-in, budgeting, security, and timing.
Getting these blockers resolved can make purchasing software a speedier, smoother process. It can also improve the outcomes of your purchasing and reduce the time individual stakeholders and departments spend on the process.
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So, what’s slowing down your SaaS buying process?
1. You don’t have a formal process for approvals
Purchasing software takes time and coordination. You need to understand your options, learn how they will fit into the rest of the tech stack, and come to an agreement on features and price. None of those processes happen in a vacuum.
When you don’t have a process to get software needs met, everything takes more time. Stakeholders don’t know where to begin asking for tools. Finance doesn’t have visibility into budget needs. Departmental approvals get caught in limbo or rushed through last-minute.
Solution: Codify your SaaS buying process
If your approval process takes forever, it’s time to get your SaaS buying process in place.
Start with an intake form. It should allow your manager or stakeholder a place to sketch out the business case and suggest possible solutions. A good intake form collects enough information to move the process forward, without being time-intensive.
Once you have an intake form in place, an approval workflow lets everyone know what’s expected. It identifies the approval order and gives stakeholders a place to communicate and follow the process. It sets the stage for Finance to approve the budget and enable the negotiation process. It also allows IT to get necessary assets in order to schedule implementation. All of these smooth the path for getting your solution in place.
2. You don’t have stakeholder buy-in for purchasing software
If you don’t have the team in agreement, getting across the finish line is far more difficult. Involving stakeholders in the selection and vetting process empowers them to support their teams.
Aside from shepherding the deal, your champion also has the important job of getting everyone invested in the chosen solution.
This also goes for your cross-departmental stakeholders. Having executive support for a purchase can keep the process moving forward smoothly.
Solution: Get your champions and stakeholders involved early
Getting your stakeholder involved early — and keeping them appraised — can ease the path. By the same token, having a workflow in place means your stakeholders don’t have to do all their work on their own. It creates a good balance for your champion.
3. You don’t have the budget for the software purchase
Budget will hang up the SaaS buying process faster than almost anything.
Pursuing a software solution without knowing if Finance will sign off is one of the top reasons a purchase is delayed or called off. It can result in lost time and more than a little frustration. Finance doesn’t want to be an obstacle to progress. But with waste spending continually on the rise, SaaS spend guidelines are becoming more stringent.
Solution: Get approved before you buy software
The more information you can provide about a purchase, the easier it will be to get buy-in and budget. Building a business case (especially when it includes preliminary numbers) is key.
Unless you have prior budget approval for the purchase, get Finance involved with the SaaS buying process as soon as possible. With the right intake form, the workflow will make the first stop at your finance decision-maker. This will allow you to clear the biggest hurdle early.
4. You don’t know the deal-breakers for purchasing software
Picking a solution without understanding the brass tacks requirements can lead to big delays or false starts. It’s almost certain that your IT and security teams will have minimum requirements.
Likewise, your Legal department may have an internal process to manage SaaS contracts. If your chosen software doesn’t meet them, you may be forced to renegotiate, spend time in last-minute fact-finding, or abandon a solution altogether.
Solution: Understand what your IT and Security teams need before you start
This is another area where a formal SaaS buying process can help. As part of the policy, you should have all the deal-breakers clearly spelled out. That way, If IT needs assurances about encryption or service-level guarantees — or if legal requires specific contract language or terms - you’ll know what you’re dealing with upfront (before it can throw a wrench into negotiations).
5. You have your back to the wall negotiating renewals last-minute
For all the attention paid to net-new contracts, it’s as important to address the speed and clarity of your software renewals process.
The renewal process takes time and attention for both your company and the sales rep. However well-oiled new contracts might be, it won’t save you from delays and friction if your renewal schedule isn’t well-documented and managed. It can also become costly, in the form of missed leverage or unwanted auto-renewal.
Solution: Get your tech stack and renewals centralized and organized
The first step to expediting the renewal process is knowing what you have coming up. Take the time to centralize and organize your tech stack, getting the information out of departmental silos and into a trackable form.
Then, establish a workflow for renewal that allows you a runway (we recommend 90 days) to examine the current contract. Look at your usage and uptime, areas where the mission has changed, or issues with the service. Get adjustments or renegotiation underway, and follow a renewal workflow to get sign-off from the necessary departments.
Getting through a software purchase doesn’t have to be frustrating or time-consuming. With some preparation and planning in advance, you can go into the process confident that you’ve got the major points covered before you even talk to a sales rep.
Depending on the size and complexity of your tech stack, it might be time to consider upgrading the process to save both time and money.