SaaS Benefits and Considerations

SaaS Benefits and Considerations

According to Forrester Research, global software-as-a-service (SaaS) revenue was $63.2 billion dollars in 2014 with the market expected to grow by 110% to $132.6 billion in 2020. What continues to drive SaaS adoption and growth? Historically, companies were required to build and manage IT infrastructure and buy expensive software licenses to run applications on top of it. SaaS gives companies an attractive alternative. Below are seven key benefits of SaaS, as well as three key considerations to address when evaluating providers.

Key Benefits

  • Higher Adoption – Most corporate users are or have used the Internet to do work. Since SaaS applications are accessed by users via web browsers, they tend to have higher adoption rates and lower learning curves.
  • Lower Costs – Because SaaS applications are subscription-based, companies do not incur capital expense for hardware, people or software. Companies pay for what they need, when they need (operating expense).
  • No Lock-In – Customers have the option of cancelling or not renewing annual or monthly SaaS subscriptions. Subscriptions highly incent SaaS providers to deliver positive customer experience and satisfaction.
  • Quick Deployment – While traditional software can take months or weeks to deploy, SaaS can be accessed immediately with a web browser. Immediate access cuts the time-to-benefit for both companies and users.
  • Seamless Upgrades – SaaS providers manage all updates and upgrades ensuring applications are current. SaaS providers also manage data backup, as well as infrastructure maintenance for performance and scale.
  • Systems Integration – Most SaaS providers offer customization capabilities to meet specific needs. SaaS providers also create APIs to enable connections between internal applications and other cloud venders.
  • Work Anywhere – SaaS applications can be accessed any place, any time, from any device via the Internet. Users experience increased productivity by having their data, systems and tools always at their fingertips.

Key Considerations

  • Data Mobility – When customers want to sever relationships with a SaaS provider, can their data be extracted? When a SaaS provider goes under, what happens to the data (i.e., is it destroyed)?
  • IT Compliance – Certain industries have compliance requirements for data protection and security; e.g., HIPAA for healthcare. Do the SaaS provider’s compliance and security practices meet the required business needs?
  • Service Outages – Service outages are not a matter of if, but when. Do the availability guarantees and service level agreements from the SaaS provider align with the company’s business requirements?

All contents copyright © 2015, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

How to Have A Difficult Conversation

How to Have A Difficult Conversation

Whenever two or more people occupy the same space, there is potential for conflict. Conflict occurs when one person does not receive the desired or expected behavior or response from another person. Conflict can either be direct (e.g., disagreement over the sales compensation plan) or in-direct (e.g., employee leaving work early every day). While minor conflict can be addressed easily and quickly, major conflict generally requires having a difficult conversation. When difficult conversations are avoided, behaviors or conditions go forward unaltered and unchecked.

Why do leaders avoid having difficult conversations? Avoidance is caused by fear. Fear is provoked by emotion, not reason. Leaders should embrace fear. Fear tells them what to do and when to do it. Leaders should use fear as a reason to take action, not an excuse to avoid difficult conversations. In the absence of fear, leaders are doing what is comfortable. When leaders fail to act, the consequences are always real even if not felt or seen in the moment. The lesson is, do not wait, take action. Below are ten tactics that leaders should use when having difficult conversations.

  • Actively Listen – Create empathy by listening to the other person’s point-of-view without an emotional filter.
  • Ask Questions – Gather objective data by engaging in a conversation versus giving a lecture.
  • Be Direct – Communicate specific boundaries and expectations for desired behaviors and outcomes.
  • Body Language – Ensure what you say is reinforced by how you carry yourself.
  • Eliminate Emotion – Focus on facts, not emotions, to gain clarity.
  • Explore Alternatives – Compromise where possible by giving up something to retain a different or partial gain.
  • Minimize Defensiveness – Reinforce positive behaviors and results to open the other person to feedback.
  • Repeat Back – Periodically paraphrase the conversation and assign meaning to it as you go.
  • Review Results – Focus on performance, not the person.
  • Separate Issues – Identify specific issues and view the other person’s position(s) in that context.

For leaders, directness and sensitivity are the two key components of having difficult conversations. Directness without sensitivity results in a message that may not be heard since the other person will be protecting themselves with defensiveness and/or resentment. Sensitivity without directness results in a message that will be heard, but not completely understood. The middle ground for achieving both objectives is delivering a clear and direct message with an awareness and empathy of how it makes the other person feel and how it affects the person’s self-image.

All contents copyright © 2015, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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