Don’t SaaS Me

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Are you a SaaS firm? It’s the powerful combination of great product, innovation-centric philosophy, and culture that ultimately makes a determined company into a world class SaaS company.

Let’s review and reflect on the qualities that make a SaaS company truly stand out:

Quality 1: Company culture wins

Company parties are fun, but they aren’t really company culture. The key to company culture is what I picture as a triangle. Think of a firm comprising three behaviors that dictate how we all treat each other: respect, importance, and listening.

Yes, it sounds way too simple. Think: these three factors underscore culture in a ‘Golden Rule’ setting: how we treat others and how we expect to be treated. That’s what great companies use to attract, keep, and continually energize people, whether they’re employees, customers, investors, or partners.

Quality 2: Believe in real innovation

We naturally tend to look at obstacles and stop; it can’t be done. However, world-class companies see every obstacle as an opportunity for innovation. They ask, “What do we do to overcome this obstacle and race forward?” They break down the challenge and get to work building the solution.

Quality 3: Technical Nerd Superiority

Most people outside of products tend to focus on features. Yet, it is structure — the backend systems and architectural features that make things run. At their core, world class SaaS companies must have technical nerd superiority. System performance, large volumes, automated testing, infrastructure, redundancy, security, data privacy, integrations, and common feature frameworks — none of those sound particularly sexy outside of an engineering team, but it’s this “boring” stuff that enables the product to roar.

Quality 4: Everything is customer experience

User Interface isn’t the only customer experience when it comes to software. Every detail is experience, from how clean your office bathrooms are to the conversation a customer has with a client solutions manager. Sales, customer service, marketing, facilities, HR, recruiting, finance, and product all contribute to customer experience, because the details matter. The whole ball matters.

Quality 5: Design is omnipresent

Design is intentional, not accidental. Purposeful design always returns to the user need. By taking a first principles approach, you achieve simplicity, order, and beauty in design. The best software, products, and brands win with eminently thoughtful, intuitive, and user-centric design.

Quality 6: Think big, then think much bigger

It’s tempting to think and stay very small. Achieving big things requires big thinking and large responsibility. Aiming further, one must then seek to answer big questions with even bigger solutions. The size of your organization today shouldn’t stop you from pushing your employees, your teammates, and even your managers to think big.

Quality 7: Tactically strategic

Over detailed, long-range strategy plans usually don’t work. After the first hour all those long and big thinking items feel like stepping into the pool at the deep end…blindfolded. Fortunately, we can make this happen most of the time, but it’s made doable by operational thinking. World-class SaaS companies don’t lose sight of the tactical. They execute with urgency, and let their actions, plans, and teams remain fluid.

OK, enough for the day. Yes your head is about to explode.

to your success…
Scott

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