By Aiko Müller
05. April 2022

The five mistakes NOT to make when choosing a SaaS solution

The five mistakes NOT to make when choosing a SaaS solution

The rise of marketing tools has changed the landscape for both vendors and end-users in fundamental ways. Many companies are reported to use a large number of different tools for their business. According to G2 Stack, Microsoft, Google, and Linkedin use - respectively - as many as 487, 315, and 149 software products internally. This fact raises plenty of questions: why so many, what are they employed for, and often…are they really being exploited to the fullest of their capabilities?

Table of content

Definition of SaaS
SaaS, or Software as a Service, provides access to cloud-based technical and support solutions as an alternative to purchasing these solutions and installing them locally. This means that the licensed software is delivered and managed remotely and one can access it via their preferred web browser or mobile device.

A SaaS tool is often designed to address a particular problem or need.

Thanks to technological advancement, companies have been able to move from on-premises software to on-demand solutions. Many marketing tools are now cloud-based and apply the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, which means they can be used by both multinational conglomerates and one-person operations. With nothing more than an internet connection and a digital device, one can access network infrastructure, platforms, application software, and anything else one could dream of to succeed in marketing.

However, the selection and implementation of new marketing tools alone do not always bring the expected value and resource efficiencies. In this article, we share MMT’s experience with respect to why and how to leverage company tools to the fullest.

Why do companies use SaaS for media management?

Media planning and buying require numerous steps to plan, book, run, monitor, and report a campaign, in parallel to creating the ads that are run on the media spaces booked. Even if walled gardens such as Facebook or Google seem to address all the needs at once, there are good reasons - for example, the ones mentioned in this article - to consider other actors. The market is extremely fragmented and requires great coordination and attention to detail in order to implement large-scale activities. A number of companies decided to address exactly this problem and offer their solutions to support the necessary activities in campaign management, e.g.:

  • media mix and KPIs modeling
  • publisher management
  • budget commitments
  • reconciliation and accounting
  • email marketing
  • lead nurturing

Depending on the size and span of media activities, organizations use a number of business tools in order to make their employees more efficient. Therefore, their tasks get accomplished faster and with fewer errors - some coordinated tasks can even be completely automated. When resources can be saved in exchange for paying the cost of a license, this cost has to remain below the savings generated. So even if a company spends a lot on SaaS products, it would normally perceive it as an “investment” that saves employees’ time and/or improves the quality of their work.

How come new SaaS licenses for media marketing tools are not necessarily bringing incremental value?

Businesses rely on the promises that every new SaaS product will bring the savings expected, but deception can come their way, bringing negative experiences and wasted time rather than value. Consequently, a growing number of companies are reconsidering their use of SaaS tools.

MMT teams have come across many companies over the years which have shared their experience on the mistakes made when buying a solution, here are the 5 more common:

MMT - 5 mistakes in SaaS selection

1. Companies do not clarify first which problems have to be addressed:

Example: A company contacts a vendor to “buy” or “get a license” on a product as the results of its internal review state clearly that it absolutely needs this online solution. According to the calculations based on the reported efficiencies, the company could save a significant amount of money once the solution is fully rolled out.

Pitfall: Sounds familiar? As a tech vendor, we do get contacted by enthusiastic individuals who believe we will address their needs straight away. They seem to have a clear plan for how they would implement and use the suite before even seeing it.

⇒ MMT always kicks off with a “chemistry session” to hear directly from the potential customer's needs and questions before making any demonstrations or recommending specific tools/solutions.

2. Companies select tools based on their current way of working

Example: A company performs an internal audit to discover where repetitive tasks, as well as most common mistakes and shortcomings, are occurring. It establishes a list of tasks to drive improvements, finds an online solution that can address these pain points straight away, and sets up a task force to implement the plans.

Pitfall: Companies that act on the current way of working might miss the point: employees perform the processes in a certain way, usually because it has been done this way in the past and/or they have never had an opportunity to give it a thought and propose generic improvements first.

⇒ Mapping the company’s processes in parallel to understanding the needs to be addressed does not only help select the right tool but also enables process improvement to avoid both existing and potential problems.

3. Companies do not prepare their team for what is to come

Example: Great news, the board has agreed on financing a new solution to support invoice reconciliation. It has been communicated internally to all the teams that from next month onwards, the tool should be used to send out invoices and enter records of all bills, and a link to the video tutorial has been provided. Three months later, the Finance team is getting ready to close the accounting period and discovers a large volume of missing records. The backlog is enormous.

Pitfall: Even if the solution is extremely intuitive, any individual needs time to adapt to a new protocol, familiarize themselves with the environment, and grasp the benefits. Only when this adaptation phase is completed, would they be willing to adopt the change?

⇒ As our colleague Alexandra Lliulcenco explained in the piece about change management, there are various potential approaches to apply. The main point is the following: team involvement and buy-in is the key factor for the adoption rate.

4. Companies do not consider their current stack when implementing new tools

Example: A company announces the availability of a new solution to address a long-term problem, and the project team is delighted to explain the selection process. The contract has been signed and the planned roll-out is being presented to all stakeholders. The Q&A session starts and one of the stakeholders is wondering if the tool will also be able to connect to the “other systems”.

Pitfall: Often, companies look for external solutions to address their needs without considering the functionalities of products that are already in use internally. When not taken into account beforehand, the interoperability and existing processes are often compromised, creating more hurdles than savings: the time an employee would have spent on doing the task is now spent on connecting the dots.

⇒ First, encourage employees to make a list of the tools they need, and eliminate any that are not necessary. By doing so, you can save time and money on tools that are not actually helpful to the team, as well as take notice of those that are.

5. Companies believe the transition is done the day the decision is made

Example: After seeing the demo of a new tool, the decision-makers are convinced about its benefits and factor in the potential efficiencies starting with the month when the agreement is signed. Set up and implementation kick-off but the expected efficiency increase does not happen within the expected time.

Pitfall: Business developers usually sell their products promising a speedy setup to the clients, but in reality, it always takes more time since you need to import all your data, invite new users, explain how the tool works, etc. In addition, two most important factors have already been mentioned above: accompany the change and encourage the team.

⇒ It is important to have a realistic vision of the implementation time - not only in terms of the setup but also considering the required training effort and the number of employees involved.

Summary

Rather than heavily investing in hardware and software licenses, many small and medium businesses are turning to SaaS tools instead. The advantage of this choice is that they won’t need to worry about updating, patching, and installing different systems as their business grows. In general, cloud computing, as well as SaaS, has a very bright future. With the right approach, businesses will be able to increase revenues and meet their needs as they grow without having to worry about most of the technical stuff and IT investments. Assessment of needs and improvement of processes often require an external eye and independent view of necessary services; a holistic approach to the company's needs enables better tool selection. However, it is essential to get very well familiar with the tool you are going to work with.

How does MMT help you use SaaS to the fullest?

MMT offers its clients an effective combination of proven methodology, skilled tech experts, and experienced managers, providing consulting services in a world where advertising and marketing data are becoming increasingly complex.

With a proven track record and years of practical experience, we will not only help you clarify the needs and challenges to tackle, but also establish an implementation process that takes internal adoption at heart to manage team and leadership expectations. Coupled with our strong international media expertise, these capabilities enable MMT to deliver the MarTech know-how to support organizations in data-driven marketing transitions.

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