An Interview with EASI’R CIO Jesper Munkholm, about the nice-to-knows in the implementation process of a standard SaaS platform in an international company.
The implementation process of a standard platform is not always a walk in the park. It takes a great deal of preparation and a fairly open mind to change legacy processes, and adapt to a new way of doing things when a SaaS platform is introduced.
The following post is an interview with EASI’R CIO Jesper Munkholm, whose team is developing a SaaS Sales and Customer Relations Acceleration platform for major international customers within the automotive industry. He answers the key questions regarding how to steer the implementation process, and how to be aware of and handle the main challenges.
Question: Jesper, is there a general implementation guideline you would advise to remember when implementing a standard platform?
Answer: There is no such thing as a final and generic recipe for implementing a standard IT platform. All organizations and their processes, politics, and competencies are different.
But there are a few things that are universal. Any major IT project, and especially a SaaS platform implementation, needs to begin with an HR off-set and a joint effort between HR, IT and the business side, in form of sales and/or marketing.
The key point is to asses the HR challenges for the team that will go on to steer and lead the project internally. If the team is not familiar with the ways of working and implementing a standard SaaS platform, this needs to be the very first challenge addressed.
A few things are universal. A SaaS platform implementation should begin with a joint effort between HR, IT and sales/marketing.
Question: Where would you suggest beginning, and how much time should an organization commit to aligning existing processes with the new standard cloud based platform?
Answer: First of all, the level of ambition needs to be realistic and if the right team is present and the preparation is good, we are looking at a time frame of 30-60 days that consists of what we call a test-drive. A test-drive is basically a slimmed down lead management project to a low number of dealers to do a proof of value calculation.
This setup should be prepared and narrowed down so that after the 30-60 days of test-drive there exists the basis for a full-scale roll out, and the first part of a more elaborate project moving towards the full customer lifecycle.
As mentioned before, go for the low hanging fruit initially. The fundamental and highly business critical processes that are related to the project are advised to be taken on further down the road.
A good start is to look at the lead management process and then work your way into full scale customer relations processes, like service management, aftersales and repurchase management. These areas are highly tied to other databases and platforms.
Since structured and traceable lead management is a fairly fragmented area for most manufactures and importers, this is a good place to start.
My advice: Go for the low hanging fruits initially. Start with the lead management process and continue with the full scale customer relations processes.
For example, measuring the path of a lead goes from a website, or any other lead source, to the dealer, is processed by the dealer and ends up as a closed deal or rejection of purchase. This process is filled with very valuable data. One example of such data is information about dealers who are performing well, and not so well. Knowing this, it is possible to learn from the best performers and bring that success to the others. It could also be that the quality of different lead sources can be benchmarked and converted into a monetary output. One of the most important uses of data is to become more knowledgeable of customer behavior during the sales process.
Question: Finding the right employees capable of implementing a standard platform is a common challenge for most companies. How would you recommend solving this, and would you rather look for employees inside or outside the company?
Answer: As mentioned before, I see the main key to a successful implementation coming from the human resources side.
The culture and mentality between the ‘old’ waterfall and custom IT projects are very different, so the key to success is to build the right team, then look at the IT and business side, and finally the marketing and communication.
If the right team members are not present internally, I would recommend to source them from outside.
As a side note, it is also highly important that the key stakeholders are familiar with both the challenges and the potential of working with a standard SaaS platform.
Question: One central concern during implementation is ensuring data security. What needs to be done during the implementation process to secure this?
Answer: As soon as data is placed outside your own company, data security and privacy becomes an important point on the agenda, and needs to be addressed very early in the process.
Data security and privacy is essential. Do not forget to make this as a key point on your agenda.
However, most SaaS platform providers take data security and privacy extremely seriously, as this is one of the cornerstones of providing a SaaS platform. In our case, a lot of precautions were taken regarding security very early on. One of them was that we went through an ISO 27001 certification, which is an extensive certification for data providers that handle important customer information. To put it into perspective, there are only 17 companies in Denmark which have this certification.
In addition to this we operate across many countries and are therefore cooperating with legal advisors to ensure we keep the highest standards regarding data privacy and security.
Picture 1: EASI’R
Picture 2: unsplash.com/Demi Kwant
Picture 3: EASI’R