Updated: Oct 10
If you’ve been an avid follower of Precursive, you’ll be aware of our take on services delivery. If not, read our take on it, in traditional services delivery is dead. Spoiler alert, we don’t think it's the way forward. We instead hold velocity and quality at the heart of services delivery. With archaic customer engagement methods and professional services metrics, you’re setting yourself up for a sharp increase in customer dissatisfaction and churn. We are in an outcomes-led era governed by a subscription-based economy, and clients will happily leave you for someone else if you’re not delivering what you promised.
If you want to future-proof your success, you need a strategy which is intended to work without having to shoehorn in any processes. For many, this is done by adopting a High-Velocity Services Delivery approach.
What is High-velocity Services Delivery?
If you’re not already familiar with the concept, then I’m sure you’re curious to learn about this alien term. High-Velocity Services Delivery (HVSD) is used to describe a new generation of SaaS companies whose Professional Services (PS) and Customer Success (CS) teams work collaboratively. This is an environment where PS teams’ goals are to deliver repeatable implementation projects, with the main difference being that their resources are engaged across multiple projects simultaneously.
Typically measured in weeks instead of months, HVSD companies must balance their time efficiently rather than focusing on one engagement at a time. It is an extremely fast and flexible environment which can bear fruit.
The last few years of isolation and remote working has opened the door for more consideration about our current systems and what we could be doing better. A recent survey carried out by FCW saw that 83% of respondents felt their digital service was committed to building flexible IT systems based on their experience during the pandemic. It’s plain to see that your competitors are using initiative to go back to the drawing board and see how their systems could be better for staff and customers. If you’re not committed to building a new, flexible IT system that can support your customers now and tomorrow, you’re risking severe operational inefficiencies.
How to Plan for the Future with HSVD
In a project-heavy environment as a SaaS business, there are far greater levels of complexity and pressure when your teams are working on and managing a range of different activities, with timelines rarely remaining constant. Top this off with multiple stakeholders on the customer end during an activity and the need for a clear overview of the situation is vital to keep on top of it all. It is by no means accomplished in a day and can feel like a constant juggling act at times, but the rewards are well worth it.
To make it work for their business, the best SaaS companies ensure that they have the following:
A clear view of capacity and availability, visualized in days, weeks and months.
Project plans that remain synchronized with resource plans and update automatically if tasks are forced to be adjusted.
An accurate forecast of future utilization so any new work can be allocated to the right team member who won’t burn out.
An efficient way of automating project creation based on templates driven by customer demand, thereby cutting the admin burden for your team.
The means to map new projects to the right people based on their skill set, going a long way to maximizing productivity and ensuring the work is completed quickly and correctly.
Clearly specified contingency time for your team so they can make time to take care of any admin tasks.
With all of these factors considered, you’re really laying the groundwork for a successful HVSD approach to SaaS and doing all the right things to give yourselves the best chance at achieving hypergrowth.
What is Hypergrowth?
Hypergrowth was a concept coined in the Harvard Business Review in 2008, which is defined as a period of rapid expansion where the annual growth rate of a company is above 40%. It is considered the steep part of the S-curve that many young industries experience. Companies that experience hypergrowth by no means have it the easy way, but the ones that can manage it successfully are able to adapt and move quickly enough to progress forwards.
For SaaS companies in or expecting hypergrowth, things can change at the drop of a hat. If you’re building a structure for work that is still meant to hold up in 18 months time, you’re building a structure to fail. This is why HVSD is the perfect model to ensure hypergrowth.
Growth at any cost is also no longer the philosophy, but instead sustainable growth that can be managed and prepped for.
What steps can SaaS companies take to prepare for outcomes in January 2024 and beyond?
What if I’m not hyper-growth?, I hear you ask. In 2022 the growth slowdown impacting the entire SaaS industry isn’t company-specific. With rising inflation, low-growth economy and a skeptic investment environment this slowdown is set to continue. Therefore, future proofing services delivery is evermore important for survival. For some, sales cycles are extending by 10-15%, so the urgency to buy software is rapidly decreasing. Proof of concept is supported more and more by those in services delivery (hence the rise in people productizing their services delivery), therefore the following advice holds true even if hypergrowth is not (or potentially no longer) your journey.
How to Future-proof Services Delivery
1. Create a Proactive Digital Strategy
SaaS companies who thrived during the pandemic did so by rapidly adapting their traditional delivery model to a more digitized process. How do they do it? They create a roadmap, detailing what they’re looking to achieve, how they will set up new services quickly to coincide with demand and continuously develop on launches to add increasing functionalities.
These companies will always have a customer centric approach, offering simple, user-friendly interfaces with a high level of automation behind them. Another key part of a proactive digital strategy is the shift to self-service models, giving customers more power to resolve their own requests. Allowing customers to be self-sufficient in ways such as finding and filling out forms means they can often get responses immediately to online service requests. Features like chatbots can address straightforward questions as soon as possible, which can avoid long queues waiting to speak to someone in a call center, putting less strain on the customer and the support team.
Customers in SaaS are rapidly expecting more flexible and convenient solutions. The result is a new way of modifying your IT systems, where new features are implemented in days, not years. Investing in a cloud-based platform which is secure and agile gives you an all new ecosystem, one that is constantly evolving to meet changing demands.
2. Conduct Risk Management
All products within SaaS carry risks associated with their operation. It’s impossible to remove all risk from something as complex as a software system. The next best thing you can do is to measure and monitor risk in order to limit the negative impacts of complexity on the operation of your system.
There are three main steps when it comes to risk management:
Locating the risk within your system
Identifying the risk items that are dangerous enough that they must be removed from the system
Specifying a comprehensive plan to reduce the remaining risk to decrease its likelihood and severity of a problem if it occurs
Using a risk matrix like this is an effective way of managing your risk across the board. Every team should manage a risk matrix for their responsibilities and services they bring to the business. These matrices from each team should be combined and managed in order of priority. This sort of exercise gives SaaS businesses a really useful way to communicate any issues with senior management and decision makers in your company.
3. Automate Everything
Almost all technical processes in your SaaS business need to be automated. This should include testing and deployment of your software, infrastructure updates, and all processes such as decision-making. Automating these activities removes a high chance of single-point failures. Tasks done manually are extremely susceptible to human error and can break down at any stage. The two biggest pros of automated processes are that they are dependable and repeatable.
Just because things are automated does not mean they should not be monitored just as much as if you were doing them manually. All changes to the system, infrastructure and processes need to be monitored and reviewed so changes to all automated processes will have records documented of any of these said changes. Doing so gives you much greater visibility in the event of a failure to see if any changes to the process lead to the problem.
Automation is crucial to ensure you have a consistent, successful system and organization. Take a look below how Precursive PSA can help customers track, manage, and improve all areas of services delivery.
Investing in a secure platform like Salesforce, to act as the company-wide, central source of information is a must and your services delivery function, from implementation to professional services, should be plugged into that platform.
See below an example of how Precursive can automate data collection and trend analysis across all key professional services KPI's:
Prepare your SaaS Business Before it's Needed
The key takeaway from this article is this. In order to successfully grow your SaaS business, you need to have given it the thought and preparation it needs. We work in an extremely competitive industry, where if you’re left behind there’s little chance of you coming back. Leave the traditional way of doing things in the past and join the new era of HVSD. You’ve got to be receptive to changing environments, and customers are always looking for ways they can improve, just like you are. With this method, you are the answer to their prayers, and services delivery will never be the same again.
Want to pressure test your services function? Take our quick survey here to help us create a picture of your services delivery health and help you discover if you’re future-proof.