Good old buyer’s remorse. I once had a friend who bought the perfect couch at the perfect price that looked beautiful in its assigned place and was comfortable for socializing, napping, watching TV, reading books – and with very little delivery hassle. They cried about it for two weeks.
Every problem that you’ve ever solved in your organization was, to a certain extent, based on hope – “This app gives us all of this, but that app has that plus training, which is a huge plus – if i can get everybody on board,” etc. – so you make an informed decision and hope that it’s the best one. And, with all the rapid innovation going on across all industries right now, you are almost certain to stumble across a better, shinier solution within minutes of signing a contract with your chosen vendor.
Multiply this by 50 or so apps and across your hundreds of employees and you end up with a big probability of broken hearts – justified or not.
Another side of this coin is the decision maker – who has personal ego invested into the money and resources being used. This could be a big blind ego, or it could the simple ego of someone who is trying to do the best they can with what they have available.
There might even be a few folks that are just bitter that the cloud broke apart the controls (and power) that centralized IT once had.
All of this adds up to a fair amount of cognitive dissonance that is distracting at the very least and likely not very productive.
Getting a handle on your cloud software benefits
Previously we have discussed some methods for getting a handle on the SaaS that your company is invested in (How To Create a SaaS Governance Policy) and have also given some preliminary advice on calculating the cost/value of any given cloud based solution (What is Usage? Step One in Determining SaaS ROI).
Now that we have a baseline of concepts we get to do the most human of activities: make some data-driven assumptions!
Cloud software companies live and die by the number of users they engage (or transactions they accomplish). Their number one fear (like many businesses) is churn – they fought (and paid) hard to get the customers they have and replacement customers is not only a blow to the bottom line (in fact “negative churn” can quickly overtake new bookings in MRR) it’s a blow to the ego for a growth-focused outfit.
Most of the techniques to identify and reduce churn are fairly soft – talk to your customers, offer more avenues for complaints, don’t do anything stupid – and therefore not that helpful in creating something actionable. However, in most cases, the fundamental anti-churn metrics that SaaS and cloud companies look at is usage.
So, add another column or two to your spreadsheet and, on a per case basis, look at the usage metrics each vendor has made available to you, and make some assumptions – if the usage metrics don’t seem very transparent, a; get on the phone and ask for better, and b; adjust your score for vendor accordingly. They’re probably not willfully obscuring the data (reports are often among the last things coded), but still we are all trying to run our companies better, and transparency is among the mightiest of weapons.
Now cut through the cloud of internal dissonance
Now that we’ve looked several of the outside objective aspects of our various apps and vendors, we have noted the results expected, what the solution replaces and the risks associated with not continuing the solution. We have also created an objective analysis of the vendors own usage data. Now let’s assign some objective scores to a few emotional or sales-skewed qualities of services that may be informative.
- Ownership – on a scale of one to five is the solution owner open and excited about the potential of new options and technology (1) or tightened up around the legacy system like Gollum and the ring (5)?
- Overwhelmed – on a scale of one to five is the solution owner open to new projects (1) or running from fire to fire (5).
- On the Dole – on a scale of one to five is the solution owner aware of the limitations of the solution (1) or head-over-heels in love with everything about the solution (5)
See how scientific this is? Well, you get the point – what you’re trying to establish is how partisan those who are involved in the business area affected are likely to be. A higher number means that you’re going to have dig a little harder and challenge more assumptions.
Next comes the fun part – we have identified all the players, made allowances for the benefits of each solution or app, used the vendor’s own methods for further objectifying the value they are helping you create, and normalized your own internal promoters. The next step will be to create your end vision, so that you take the right steps for the right reasons.