April 26, 2018
How to do SaaS differently
Since our founding in 1999, Red Olive expanded by 31 employees, broadened our efforts, and expanded our capabilities. But we’re nowhere near finished.
Our team is continually pushing the limits of digital design, development, and marketing. But one area we’ve seen the majority of growth in over the last year is SaaS.
As the streaming culture of the online world has taken over everyone’s day to day, our web and app team have found greater success in our Software as a Service (SaaS) products. Over the last year, in particular, we’ve really focused a lot of effort in our SaaS capabilities partnering up with Legit Local and other businesses to develop various products. But what really makes SaaS different and, specifically, how does Red Olive do it differently? Let’s explore.
Uniquely positioned for SaaS
Having all the core competencies under one roof is key. Rather than hand off the design to development and then to marketing, our entire team is there from the start. We’re there for every discussion, working together to create something our client is proud of and, even better, so are we. SaaS already faces threats from every angle, but with a strong collaborative approach and a cross-functional team, it’s easier to overcome challenges faster and get products to market quicker. We’re lean and work in small batches to get iterations to market quicker.
IT’S ABOUT OUR TEAM
- It’s about our work. It’s about our products. It’s about our team.
- Each of the rooms in our office is strategically laid out to best serve our clients.
- A Red Olive developer sits next to one of our designers, these designers sit next to strategists, and so on.
- Teamwork isn’t something we just say, it’s how we do our business.
- We do all of this because we’ve found that working as a team not only helps our projects move along quickly but more efficiently.
Mistakes Make SaaS What It Is
We’ve learned a lot over the years through user testing and process design. Emerging markets require some humility and admitting that we have more to learn. But as we’ve worked with a broad range of clients, we’ve started to learn as we’ve developed. Each of our projects has taught us something new and while mistakes don’t define you, they definitely do improve you. That couldn’t be truer than with SaaS.
In the past, we let the client rule the product. We still do, but we’ve learned that is important to keep the client focused. We make sure that with each new project, we don’t lose our way as we develop. We keep our eyes on the target and try our best to not let the vision get blurry with additional features.
Another lesson we’ve learned is to not let opinions get in the way of what users want. It’s tempting to assume you know what a user wants and invest time on features that the majority of your users don’t use or even want. Clients hire you for your expertise not just your execution skill. This means having hard conversations and holding clients accountable to a budget, timeline, and probability of success. Although, we get it. At first glance, this doesn’t seem like the best way to do business. But let us explain. We’ve found that rather than creating a SaaS product just for the sake of it, a client is best served by your guidance. So, rather than just create a SaaS product, help your client develop their idea. Collaborate with your client, be honest and fair. Don’t lead them down a path both you and they’d regret.
Process Makes Perfect
What makes us truly different at Red Olive is our process. From the beginning, we keep the end in mind. Compared to our other projects, our SaaS process is different because a lot more strategy is involved throughout the entire project. We start the project by defining what’s required for an MVP, minimum viable product.Focusing on an MVP eliminates waste and gets a product to market sooner, which is where the real feedback loop begins. The sooner users can tell/show you how they use the product the higher the odds of success. However, our process has taken years of refinement to figure out what works.
We’ve found that many projects can bloat to an epic scale without a process to keep the MVP the focus. Oftentimes the client and/or us can get excited about a project and start running in all different directions. But it’s important to not lose focus. Focusing on time to market and getting feedback from users as soon as possible is a core fundamental of our project management team. If the product fails, so do we.
Another part of the Red Olive process that’s unique is our daily coordination. Each morning we hold team standups on each of our cross-functional teams where we plan in weekly sprints. These morning standups consist of each member explaining roadblocks, planning, and collaboration items required of other team members. This allows us to all work in a joint effort throughout the entire project rather than separate teams that come together at the end. Ultimately, it’s about what works best for our clients and getting a great product out the door. Luckily, this process helps us do just that.
Develop the Ground Running
In our most recent project, we teamed up with Legit Local to create a new product that competes with some large established competitors. You don’t always have to be first to market to pick up market share. The effort came after we saw other products on the market that were costly, complicated, and ineffective. We thought, “We can do It differently, simpler, and at a better price point.” And that’s the goal with every one of our products— different, simple, better.
Legit Local allows businesses to optimize their online efforts through an improved customer feedback process. We wanted the product to accomplish that in the simplest way at a cost-effective price. We involved development and design throughout the entire process so we could make sure that from an architectural standpoint each feature followed our MVP rule. This is a rule that companies like Amazon and Facebook each started with. It was a small idea that evolved over time and Legit Local is our evolutionary product.
But, no matter the result, we’ve learned to do our work as a team, coordinate daily, communicate with our departments, continually refine our process, and keep learning as we go. If you want to forget the outdated SaaS creation process, contact Red Olive today and get started on your next revolutionary project.