Enterprises go live with SaaS in under 30 days

Enterprises go live with SaaS in under 30 days

Summary: Today, SaaS project management vendor Daptiv publishes metrics showing that its customers go live in less than 30 days. I spoke to one satisfied customer, InterContinental Hotels.

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TOPICS: CXO, Cloud, Emerging Tech
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Rapid go-live is often touted as one of the great advantages of software-as-a-service (SaaS), but vendors rarely quote actual figures. Today, project management SaaS provider Daptiv is releasing actual metrics collected from more than 200 customers who went live on its service in the past nine months. Those figures show the average time from starting a subscription to having live users running productively on the configured system was less than 30 days. The sample ranged from small teams of a handful of people who were live in a matter of days, up to 1,000-plus implementations including a 1,020-seat customer that went live with its entire user base in 29 days.

The point of the exercise was to be able to back up the vendor's marketing pitch about time-to-value with "tangible, defensible numbers," VP marketing Tim Low told me last week. Daptiv used its own product to collect the metrics as part of an exercise to optimize the go-live process for customers. The streamlined configuration, training and implementation methodology is now being marketed as the "Subscribe-to-Live" program.

Intercontinental San FranciscoI checked into the Intercontinental San Francisco a day after it opened in FebruarySome may argue that SaaS applications are faster to implement because they're less sophisticated than their on-premise rivals, but that wasn't the impression I got last week when I spoke to Crystal Snoddy, director of new hotel openings and franchise programs at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), whose team went live with the Daptiv service in just a two-week time span in May this year.

"It's easy to use and learn, but that's a testament to its usability rather than a lack of complexity," she told me. "I've found the application to be feature rich and flexible."

Every day of the year, IHG — whose brands include Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn — opens a new hotel somewhere in the Americas (pictured is the InterContinental San Francisco, which coincidentally I checked into the day after it opened in February this year). Snoddy's team is responsible for managing continuous improvement of the hotel opening process across the Americas — smoothing out kinks and bottlenecks at any step from building and kitting out the hotel to supporting franchisees in meeting and beating quality standards once it's open. Daptiv is the product the team uses to track its work, replacing an earlier customized desktop package.

"We knew we had to go with something centralized," said Colin Erven, the program manager given the job of sourcing a new project management platform for the team. IHG hadn't set out with the intention of going SaaS, but it soon became clear that would be their only option, he said. "The first thing that gave us a clue we would need a SaaS solution was that we didn't have a long deployment time. We needed to sign a contract and get a deployment in place that we could start using."

As well as time-to-live, other key factors were flexibility to accommodate IHG's services-focused methodologies and a relatively low initial acquisition cost — "We wanted to limit our risk," said Erven. "When we took all these factors into consideration, SaaS was the only thing left standing."

Erven completed due diligence on the service over a week or two prior to signing up and then configured the system in the following two weeks. At that point, said Erven, "It was functional for 60 to 70% of our needs," and the core team of around a dozen users went live (see a screenshot below of the generic Daptiv PPM application). The total user pool is currently 200 and will be around 1,000 by year end, thanks to the addition of self-service Web forms for business users to submit issues to the team for investigation.

Screenshot of Daptiv PPM

The IHG team seem almost relieved to have the system running productively so soon after purchase, without having to jump through what Snoddy described as "the 'politics' of implementing an enterprise software package." There's no need to wait on internal IT processes to purchase and configure an internal server, and then deal with a business analyst to get custom features coded. "By using SaaS, the business gets to tune the application to meet their needs," said Erven.

One downside of the SaaS approach is that there have been glitches (that are still being worked on) accessing elements of the application through the firewall, such as customized dashboards. But overall the project has more than delivered in terms of speed of implementation, ease of customization and allowing a centralized file repository with version control and enforceable policies. "The speed of updating is a drawback but as a whole the features outweigh the negatives," concluded Snoddy.

Topics: CXO, Cloud, Emerging Tech

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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2 comments
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  • 3000+ SaaS Implementations

    Phil,

    Having been responsible for a global delivery team managing over 350 projects a month and delivering over 3000 saaS implementations, I can attest to the rapid ability to go live in short time cycles. Obviously, depending on the complexity of the solution, many implementations of SaaS based solutions can be implemented in 3 - 6 weeks. This is an interesting touch point with CIO's and IT executives who have struggled to make changes or do software upgrades in less than 6 months or typically in a 12 month - 18 month cycle. At Bluewolf we continue to build solutions around an Agile approach while giving the business end user real value and validation of the architected solution. Many customers or potential customers have a hard time fathoming the possibility of solving a complex business problem with an application in such short time frames and I am often asked why SaaS makes this possible.

    1. When deploying a SaaS solution, the infrastructure, security, and core application is already in place.
    2. SaaS applications work over port 80 or a standard internet browser so firewalls and other remote access solutions are less of an issue in delivering the solution.
    3. The focus is on the business problem and configuring the SaaS application to solve the problem. There are no distractions with a typical solution built in the client server realm.
    4. In the typical IT shop, the ability to acquire a server or servers, deploy in Data Center, etc. is at least an 8 week project, not including the software installation of said client server solution. (we could all agree that you could purchase a server in less than a week, typical IT organizations, especially public companies have longer cycles to approve Capital purchases, and then install into a secure environment.)
    5. Integration with existing systems can be done with companies like Pervasive Software who have over 200 connectors with existing applications and SaaS applications like Salesforce.com making integration quick and realtime. For a complete SaaS solution, customers can leverage Boomi or Pervasive for an innovative SaaS architecture demonstrating integration in the cloud and on premise.

    I am not working with CIO's in my new role as Managing director of the CIO practice at Bluewolf and we are focused on extending Web 2.0 to the IT organization. I am consistently seeing a trend with IT executives who are now looking for ways to build SaaS strategies over the next 3 yrs to support the growth of their business.

    For more info about me and Bluewolf, check out my blog at http://saasevolution.blogspot.com

    Lonnie
    lonniewills
  • RE: Enterprises go live with SaaS in under 30 days

    Phil's point about how SaaS solutions can accelerate deployment time is right on. However, I was shocked to see that the word "security" didn't appear in his article once. The single biggest drawback of any SaaS model is that confidential data is hosted on an off-premise server. To my mind, this is a deal breaker for any organization that wants to ensure its customers' information remain private or, more to the point, that wants to prevent its own strategic direction, development activities, and research from ending up in the hands of competitors.

    Ty
    http://agileprogramming.org/
    tyharris