When a new industry comes into being, it demands a business that can operate this industry. And, just as the new industry is unique, so is the business that will support it. SaaS is no exception to this rule.
A new SaaS business means a new corporate culture, philosophy and way of doing things. Those familiar with more tried and true industries may find themselves asking, what are the different departments that make up a SaaS business? And how do you determine the functions and responsibilities of each department?
Well, the answers to these questions may vary little, or vary greatly, from one SaaS business to the next. It all depends on the type of software, the individuals making up the company, cost etc… but for the most part, there is one overarching theme that exists among SaaS businesses, and we’re going to take a look at it today.
Even if you’re not in SaaS as a profession, but are just a potential SaaS user, you will better appreciate what SaaS means if you understand how a SaaS business works!
#1 – Marketing
Marketing in SaaS is all about marketing a service rather than a product – and a web service at that. This means that almost all your marketing will be accomplished through online channels, such as traditional web and email marketing campaigns, social media, blogs and SEO writing. SEO is especially important for search engine visibility, and affiliate programs (which are becoming ever more popular these days).
Marketing SaaS is about selling a service to a client using the cloud. No longer does each department stand on its own; All these components means that your sales department, your marketing department, your technical department and customer success department will most likely overlap.
#2 – Sales
There is a big change when it comes to sales in SaaS, versus traditional software. You are selling subscription service, rather than a license. You are selling access to a cloud rather than an installation process.
Your sales department therefore, has to deal with different issues. Piracy isn’t really much of a problem, but issues like churn and overhead from trial users could pose a challenge. You also have to balance your billing system for factors such as price per usage versus price per account, and annual versus monthly billing.
#3 – Customer Success
While similar to customer service and customer support, ‘customer success’ is more about corporate relationships – which you’re more likely to deal with as a SaaS provider. (Not all SaaS is corporate software, but that’s the biggest chunk).
With SaaS, everything happens in the cloud, and in real-time. This is why social outreach plays a huge role. Saas employees must engage with customers; responding not only to direct issues and complaints, but also responding to even passive comments about the service. The key is to be proactive; reach out to clients via emails and social platforms before they come to you; ask how they’re doing, or how you could improve the service.
#4 – R&D and QA
When it comes to SaaS, your R&D department will share a lot of tasks with marketing and customer success because platforms for outreach and customer feedback are often unified. Your R&D people will be inspired by what customers ask for – regarding new features or reported bugs – and they will hear about the latest buzz through the customer success/marketing channels – especially if you go social.
QA people will usually be a subset the R&D department and customer success as well.Tthey will be testing not only for the stability of what R&D is working on, but also suggest features that could use improvement or could be executed more efficiently.
#5 – Financial
Your financial department is the only one that’s not been roped into this overlapping new architecture. Financial responsibilities in Saas, as with traditional software, remain pretty much the same. Accounting, profitability, taxes and overhead are all examples of financial taks.
SaaS business department standards may be a bit different than the standards within traditional SaaS companies. While you have your distinct roles, some overlap and share responsibilities withone another. In the future, we’ll talk about how this works in greater detail, but for now this is an outline of the big picture.