As the sports sponsorship industry transitions from spreadsheets to cloud-based management tools, the leading software providers are doing more to help their customers maximize the value these systems can deliver. We’re essentially seeing an evolution from SaaS tools to SaaS+ solutions.
SaaS is a familiar term, standing for Software-as-a-Service and referring to software that is delivered, updated and used as a subscription service from the cloud, rather than being installed on your own computer. SaaS offerings have grown significantly in recent years, fueled by the advantages of 24/7 cloud-based access, low initial investment, scalability and continuous enhancements. But the “service” that comes with the SaaS software access has typically been limited to training, support and ongoing updates.
With SaaS+, software providers like Sponsor Locker are becoming more like business consulting partners, focused on helping their customers optimize the value they receive from actually using the software. In this model, the software provider helps the client customize the software to meet its needs, integrate the software solution across its business, take advantage of the industry best practices offered by the software, handle the necessary change management in the client’s organization and recommend new features for future development. Some vendors may go even further and offer additional design, development and consulting services, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly through a stable of third-party developers, designers and other providers. Done well, SaaS+ brings the client expertise in application engineering, customer support, industry best practices and business consulting—all as part of the SaaS subscription price.
The benefits offered by the SaaS+ model are a win-win for the software providers and their customers. For the provider, the consultative sales and deployment process increases sales, customer satisfaction and renewals. For the customer, the ongoing partnership with the software provider accelerates deployment, user acceptance, customization and return on investment. SaaS+ makes the software provider accountable for the customer’s success in introducing and using the system, both initially and over time. Plus, both sides benefit from the new features and work flows that arise from their ongoing relationship and can be rolled into future product enhancements.
If the benefits of SaaS+ sound attractive, what should you be looking for when you’re ready to move beyond spreadsheets?
First, find a software provider who affirmatively offers a SaaS+ level of service. What they call this level of commitment is not important. What they offer is. One note of caution: Beware of throw-away offers to provide a “dedicated product manager” if you elect some premium price level. In most cases, there’s a big difference between a dedicated product manager and a real SaaS+ commitment.
Second, be sure your software provider has experience in delivering what you need. For example, if you are an agency, ask whether the vendor’s SaaS+ team has experience in helping agencies roll out sponsorship management tools across multiple clients or with improving analytics. If you are a sponsor looking to get organized, ask whether the team has experience in helping brands improve their contract and asset management.
Third, look beyond initial deployment to your ongoing relationship. Help with initial workflow customization is important, but be sure your vendor is excited about working with you to continue to add enhancements and new features over time.