A classic pitfall when implementing SaaS solutions

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Our founder and CEO, Lars de Nully, is a competent and frequent writer on our blog, where he discuss and address many topics within and around Expense Management. Lars is without a doubt one of the most influential and knowledgeable persons in Denmark when it comes to digital expense management. Therefore, I read and follow his blog posts with huge interest. In his last blog post, Lars wrote about the importance of keeping the focus on the users and the importance of a good user experience (UX) with regards to adoption of software amongst the employees.

I would like to build on that. But I am starting a few steps before the UX becomes pivotal. Lars is correct when he writes that: “a well-designed and well thought out user experience significantly increases the implementation success rate in an organization”. This is definitely correct. Fortunately, we find that our customers consider our applications to be both intuitive and user-friendly. My most important task as a Senior Consultant is to convert a happy buyer to a happy customer. My experience tells me, that it also increases the success rate and joy significantly, when employees know why they need to change familiar structures and current working habits.

New working habits require more communication

Among the consultants at Acubiz, there is a general consensus that good change management is decisive for a successful implementation of a SaaS solution. It is decisive, as a new solution usually will affect the employee’s everyday life in the shape of new routines, workflows, etc. People have a fundamental need to know why familiar structures and current habits need to be changed.

Communication about the change is absolutely essential, and it creates resistance even before the project is launched, if the company does not communicate why a new solution is needed and what users can expect. This is a truth with some modifications though. Some employees love changes and embrace them right away, others need to know why the process must be changed, while some, from the beginning, may show resistance and need particularly good arguments (and time).

I believe that this is some of the most interesting part of my work. In addition to making sure that the solution is configured correct, I am also helping customers to secure that Acubiz is being adopted by the employees – even though most of the responsibility for this is placed at the customer. In the next section, I will touch upon two pieces of advice that will increase the odds for a successful adoption.

Create an understanding of the new working habits

So far so good. The work with getting the employees on board and get them to take ownership and use the new solution can start. I do not want to play an expert within change management and change communication, but I am happy to share our own experiences with implementing Acubiz. Before a business, that has turned into a customer, initially contacted Acubiz, they have either used another Expense Management service provider or have had a manual or partially manual process. Either way, the expense management process is about to change, and this put demands on the company when it comes to ensuring adoption of the new solution among the employees.

We recommend that companies create an understanding of the need for change and defines a team of key employees who takes the lead for the new solution.

There may be several reasons for companies to invest in a new SaaS solution. These reasons must be communicated to the employees. Otherwise, it will be difficult to create a common understanding of the need for change.

I will take an Acubiz perspective in this example. Explain that you are changing the solution, since the finance department spends too much time on manual processes, and because you want the process around expenses to be automated and digitized. Or because there are significant financial savings to be achieved in terms of lower total costs of ownership. It may also be, that you want to make digital tools available to your employees and that approvers must be able to approve expenses, time registrations, cost invoices etc. on the go. The reasons are many. Explain them.

When the employees understand the need for the new solution, it is important to define a team of key employees who, with strong formal/informal influence, broad expertise, and high credibility, can create trust for the new solution. In other words, create a team with employees who are respected in the organization. They must act as ambassadors for the solution and be able to act as “super users” for the rest of the employees, who can approach them for good advice and questions. It is always easier for employees to adopt a solution if other respected and trustworthy colleagues take the lead.

It should be mentioned that the complexity of the SaaS solution is quite crucial, as certain simple solutions only affect a few people in the organization and therefore do not need a large and widescale implementation. But when it comes to SaaS solutions that involve large parts, or all, of the employees, it makes very good sense to go all-in on a successful implementation.

Do not be afraid to ask the vendor for advice

We recommend that you ask the chosen vendor how they intent to roll out their solution. The vendor must be able to give some solid advice. At Acubiz, we have implemented many thousand solutions and we are happy to share our experiences. We believe that an inferior implementation from the start leads to a lower adoption by the users (however, a good user experience can fortunately fix a lot).

I want to end where I started – with the importance of the good user experience written by Lars. A solution with a high degree of user-friendliness and an intuitive user interface will mean that most employees relatively painlessly will adjust and get used to the new system. And if they, at the same time, know why the company is changing the solution, can see the benefits and know who to approach with questions – then we have got a nice value for money situation.

There a more tips than the ones above, and I have got the pleasure to write more about them in the coming weeks and months. So, stay tuned!

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