How to create and make money on SaaS (Part I / remove all unnecessary, hit the target, experiment)


I have long wanted to speculate on the difference between the creation of SaaS (on-line) services for small and medium-sized businesses and the creation of classic automation systems for the same business segment, which I’ll start to do today. In my terminology, the classic solution is a desktop platform solution that implements one or another functional for SMB and can be customized to meet the needs of the client.

Factors affecting development .

Instead of the preamble, I will look at creating a new service in terms of the issue price / required resources and their savings.

In the case of SaaS, startup teams usually have at the beginning of their journey:

a) limited budgets;
b) understanding how and for whom to make the service - full house solution functionality, classification of the automation system or standard of the application area, i.e. some classic understanding of the rules for creating an application;
c) time and other restrictions - the team is forced to start selling quickly and not always the product corresponding to the completed Roadmap;

Each item affects the process, timing, quality of development as a whole. All restrictions are due to the task itself and are permanent, except for non-financial restrictions (paragraph "b"). In my opinion, when creating SaaS services, you need to look more freely at the classical requirements for the development process, optimizing the remaining constant cost parts of the project without visible changes in the quality of the problem being solved. Those. it is not necessary to apply the postulates that worked before when creating classical automation systems when creating SaaS services.

Simplification of services without risk to the result.

The first is to make not features, but vertical, simple decisions, not even vertical ones, but covering the needs of a department, group, company, distributed group. In this case, the main thing is to guess where to make efforts - what to automate. For example, Vasily Shabat at the beginning of the era of the emergence of SaaS in Russia made a travel accounting service and only then realized that the service was in demand by large companies, did not sell itself, it required efforts to integrate with accounting systems and was already implemented by many conservative players.
Example of cloud services: Columbus Logistics Department My warehouse Classic approach: more functionality - do everything to the maximum, in the hope that all of a sudden the 1053th needed function will come in handy.

The second is to follow the path of "cutting off excess functionality." What I mean by this is not following standards, for example, ITIL and “trimming” a large layer of solution functionality, for example, access rights. Of the successful examples of the last ASANA , the philosophy of the founders of which is that administration of access rights as a whole is not necessary in a small group of employees - all 10 pairs of eyes understand that they are in an excellent team of like-minded people and there’s nothing to hide from each other, and the manager sees it very well , which makes a subordinate in the "open" space of the service and in the office 5 by 5 meters.
Classic approach: Servis Desk is ITIL, Pink Elephant, but why is this a 10-person team?

The third is to try to combine simple products into bundles that are not there yet, or to start developing a huge Shuttle with such an unusual combination - a bundle may simply be successful. But do not experiment with Unified communications - this is enough.
Examples of cloud services: Quickme SMEOn
Classic approach: CRM or HRM or Docflow framework + consulting + training + changing company thinking ... what is it in SaaS for? SaaS is designed to save!

There are chances (instead of conclusions).

I have not yet tried to talk about the technological development of SaaS applications, which is cheaper in itself (multi-tenancy, for example) and emphasized ideological things that will help simplify and reduce the cost of the creation process. It turned out that the first approach is a clear saving when it hits the target. The second approach is the optimization of development costs due to the unnecessary part of the SMB functionality. The third is the search for your path and positioning. Thus, in order to bring success closer, do a simple service - applicable by three employees of the company, leave everything unnecessary and travel with one suitcase, in which there will be one shirt — a solution to the client’s problem. Well, combine classics and Casual in approaches, if not scary.

!It is important that SaaS application developers have a unique opportunity to experiment - to simplify their services and create a new automation philosophy.

There will be a continuation and there will be interesting guests from developers of leading Russian SaaS services.

Alexey Kalachnikov

Author’s blog

Materials of the series “How to create and make money on SaaS”

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