A recent IDC PeerScape study, based on over sixty interviews with line-of-business and IT buyers, examines the current realities of SaaS and cloud-enabled software and offers advice to CIOs on best practices to consider while implementing solutions. One of the key takeaways is that companies need to focus strongly on the business change—not just the technology change—and that implementation partners can help ensure the process adheres to strategic direction.

Acumatica shares part of the report, IDC PeerScape: Practices for Implementing SaaS and Cloud Services, which concedes that “software is software,” whether it’s cloud-based or lives on premise; it’s a dynamic part of a larger environment that needs to be tended to and maintained through various changes, upgrades, and shifts in strategic focus. In order for companies to benefit from SaaS and cloud-based solutions for the long-term, leaders need to avoid the “set it and forget it” mentality that tends to accompany the relatively easy configurations and rollouts. Digital transformation is a journey, after all, and not a destination.

How can an organization approach a SaaS implementation successfully—and for the long-term? Here’s an overview of three best practices explored by IDC:

  1. Demand hands-on demos with your organization’s “live/real” data to show the benefit to the business. This practice comes down to thinking beyond costs and discovering the true value in incorporating a piece of SaaS technology into your wider business strategy. While many companies may choose cloud-based solutions to save costs, cost-savings aren’t always a reality—especially when the software is an “island of innovation.”

It’s important to find out from the very beginning if the software will need modifications in order to work effectively for your particular business and processes. This can be achieved, according to IDC’s research, by using real/live data in your software demos.

An implementation partner, like MIBAR, can help identify your business requirements and determine the software’s out-of-the-box (or reconfigured) “fit” for your organization. By evaluating the solution using your actual data, they can assess its value and help you decide if, all things considered, it’s worth the investment for the long haul.

  1. Implement cloud-based methods and tools to reduce the testing burden for each software release. As already expressed, software is software. Even SaaS and cloud-based solutions require testing and updates. While cloud software vendors make this process “easy,” as much of the work is done on their end, not every new release or update is automatic—especially if you’ve made significant configurations to your app. This might make the testing process look similar to that of an on-premise system. In fact, IDC notes that vendors can release up to three or four versions of their software a year, “significantly multiplying the testing load compared with annual or biannual cycles for some on-premise software upgrades.”

To help manage the activities associated with testing, they recommend looking at using specialized cloud-native testing service providers—and, again, an experienced implementation provider like MIBAR can assist in setting your expectations and developing action plans for each round of software testing.

  1. Analyze each software release update and decide which innovations are worth implementing when. Indeed, the post-live life of your cloud-based software is dynamic and, if set up as part of your wider IT environment, constantly interacting with other systems. This sometimes-complex reality is made even more complex by the fact that your SaaS vendor will periodically roll out new features that introduce even more change (with potentially great results) to your organization: to your apps, users, and processes.

Your implementation partner can help you adapt to this ever-changing “life on the cloud” and ultimately get the most from your SaaS and cloud-enabled software. An important piece in this puzzle is keeping up with the flow of features introduced by your vendor and determining whether or not you should prioritize each/every release of new functionality.

As the IDC study shows, companies can glean useful insights from peers who have gone before them in adopting today’s cloud-based software applications. We bring even more insights to our client relationships based on years of managing transformative cloud software deployments for companies across industries. Contact us if you’re ready to start your strategic journey to the cloud.

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