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Lessons Learned Building Enterprise SaaS Companies


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A presentation to a CTO Roundtable. A discussion based group of CTO's working in Edison Venture companies. The author has 10 years of experience in building and managing SaaS companies as a CTO and CIO.

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Lessons Learned Building Enterprise SaaS Companies

  1. 1. 1 Lessons Learned Building Enterprise SaaS Presentation to Edison CTO Roundtable George McKevitt, Ph.D. December 7, 2016 ComplySci
  2. 2. © 2015 Compliance Science, Inc. - Confidential2 2 Lessons Learned • Building the product is only part of it • The SaaS model is built on trust • Customer Service is everything • Product management is hard and can be contentious • Enterprise expectations will be much higher than you will expect • SaaS companies serving enterprises must act like enterprises
  3. 3. © 2015 Compliance Science, Inc. - Confidential3 3 The SaaS Model is Built on Trust • Uptime & performance • Redundancy, Rapid failure detection, Quick failover • Scalability – know your peaks • Monitor, monitor, monitor–know before your customers do • Share your SLA results • Expect security to be paramount – one breach can put your company out of business • 15% of our spend • SOC Report, IDS, log monitoring, Security Operations Center, AV • Penetration testing, 3rd party code reviews • Hundreds of security DDQ’s a year • SaaS companies need to match or better the customer
  4. 4. © 2015 Compliance Science, Inc. - Confidential4 4 Customer Service is Everything • Most SaaS customers leave due to poor customer service • Even moderate churn makes it very difficult and expensive to grow subscription business • Prohibitive if your churn is high • Top performing SaaS companies • Annual renewals on a customer count basis above 90% • On a dollar basis over 100% renewals due to up-sells into this installed base. • Need the ability to implement customers efficiently • Expect to build internal tools • Customer service can limit small companies to local markets • How to support a single customer in Asia with 9-6 EST support time?
  5. 5. © 2015 Compliance Science, Inc. - Confidential5 5 Product Management is Hard • Often shifting priorities • Customization Requests are Inevitable • Ask the question: Is it applicable to other customers? • Strive to provide multiple products from one platform • Economies of scale • Related products to upsell • Let your customers help define the product - you’re solving their problems. • You may end up somewhere completely different than you intended • Balancing the customer and company needs is key • Learn to say No when necessary / Hardest thing you can do • Adoption is the key to success and the barometer of your business • Maintain only one set of code regardless of pressures
  6. 6. © 2015 Compliance Science, Inc. - Confidential6 6 Enterprise expectations will be much higher than you will expect • Security and privacy are paramount • Managing PII for others comes with high requirements • Security concerns can be a deal-breaker • Enterprises overwhelm you with people and requests • You are going to have to integrate with them • Scalability & criticality of the service to the business • B2B is different than B2C • They will hold you to SLA’s • Enterprises often outgrow SaaS vendor • You need to examine the types of customers you’re targeting and potentially adjust that target. • Reason could be functionality, scalability, security, customer service • How far do you go?
  7. 7. © 2015 Compliance Science, Inc. - Confidential7 7 SaaS Companies Serving Enterprises Must Act Like Enterprises • Enterprise clients – best and worst thing that can happen • Even small companies must be on par with large clients • Security and operations need to match your customers • Successful companies learn to scale quickly • Teams, on-boarding, technology, processes • Variable staffing is critical • SaaS teams often change as you get into enterprise customers • The cloud is your friend • Technology must be supportable to support SLA’s • Instrumentation, logging, error handling • Hosting models • Multitenant is required, expect single tenant & on premises requests • Licensing can be a large cost – choose technology wisely
  8. 8. 8 Thank You Please contact: