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Maximizing the Benefits of SaaS:

Start Right and Keep Moving


Achieving long-term returns from SaaS requires
cultivating the appropriate mindset—just get started,
be fast and flexible, don’t over-customize—as well
as a bit of planning and governance to ensure that
organizations realize the potential for rapid speed
to value and long-term business transformation.

By Saideep Raj, Managing Director, Global SaaS


Practice, Accenture
Always look for the next tipping
point—when SaaS functionality
provides more flexible business
capabilities at a lower cost

Mature SaaS applications are fast, flexible, company’s infrastructure fast, functionality provides more flexible
cost-effective, increasingly popular with flexible and poised to adopt new business capabilities at lower cost.
both business leaders and their employees, SaaS functionality as it matures. Then pounce.
and well suited for getting business Every organization’s plan for SaaS
done. From a planning perspective,
Build a cloud
adoption will differ based on multiple
however, many organizations struggle migration strategy
factors, including business rationale
to understand which SaaS applications With its low costs and substantial
and organizational readiness for change.
to implement, as well as the best benefits, SaaS take-up is skyrocketing.
Even so, based on businesses which
techniques for coordinating SaaS use Already, many organizations use SaaS-
are already seeing substantial returns
across the enterprise to minimize risks based CRM software such as Microsoft
from their SaaS investments, Accenture
and maximize business returns. Dynamics CRM, Oracle CRM On Demand
has identified five techniques which
and Salesforce CRM. Organizations are
The best approach for knowing how any organization can use to maximize the
now also much more likely to use SaaS
or why to implement SaaS is through benefits of SaaS. These include building
applications—instead of traditional,
constant evaluation, testing and a good foundation, quickly launching
packaged applications—for human
reassessment. For example, Accenture and iterating software until it meets
capital management, supply chain
is helping a leading manufacturer to test, business requirements, fostering business/
management, office suites and
pilot and capitalize on today’s mature IT collaboration and an agile mindset,
digital content creation software.
SaaS applications—especially customer governing SaaS and maintaining a living,
relationship management (CRM), evolutionary SaaS architecture. Cloud platforms from Amazon.com,
supply chain automation and business- Google, Microsoft, Oracle, salesforce.com
By practicing these five strategies,
to-business exchanges—as well as to and others cost-effectively bundle the
detailed in full below, organizations
integrate required applications and data vertical capabilities as well as development
can maximize the benefits of SaaS by
across more than 100 business groups. and integration environments required
constantly rethinking and reevaluating
The CIO’s goal, through these efforts, to move many types of applications to
how and why SaaS is being used. In
is to build and maintain a “living” the cloud.
particular, they must always look for
application roadmap to keep the the next tipping point—when SaaS
For example, Lawson Inc. in Japan, required legacy systems, adopt salesforce. that enables the business to do more
working with Accenture, recently com and then remain prepared for rapidly with SaaS, at less cost. For example,
rebuilt and migrated 400 Lotus Notes using more SaaS. the aforementioned manufacturer now
applications, including business maintains a dynamic, evolving SaaS
2. Jump in, then iterate.
workflows, onto Force.com. Lawson’s roadmap to know what to implement, and
The SaaS formula for “speed to value” is
business case was clear: the move would when. Interestingly, while the company
simple: define desired business outcomes,
reduce operating costs and increase has tended to trial new technology in its
and specify how SaaS can achieve these
application flexibility. Furthermore, the more established markets, based on this
goals. Of course, many organizations
license and management savings from roadmap, it has begun to aggressively
moving to SaaS already have mature
using cloud computing more than paid implement SaaS in less established
business capabilities. Trading this live
for the migration. markets—including Africa and the Pacific
functionality for a SaaS alternative, on the
Similarly, to better serve the families Rim—to cost-effectively and rapidly keep
fly, may resemble nothing less than brain
and teachers of 1.1 million students, pace with recent surges in demand.
surgery. How can organizations relearn
this U.S. Education Agency, working with with SaaS, to achieve a similar level of Springboard to transformation
Accenture, designed and launched a new process maturity? The answer is to think Forward-looking Accenture clients view
call center, integrating databases from iteratively: Launch as quickly as possible SaaS not as a set of software features,
multiple departments—including Student and refine as you go. but as a springboard to achieve more
Enrollment, Pupil Transportation, Family transformational or revolutionary goals
Engagement and Advocacy, and Special 3. Govern SaaS. Change
which deliver sustained—and perhaps even
Education Initiatives—to enhance the can be challenging.
unexpected—long-term benefits. The cost
city’s 311 (government information One of our pharmaceutical clients,
is the same; all that differs is the mindset.
and non-emergency) hotline. Using for example, is embracing more SaaS
applications, yet must also comply If talk of “business transformation”
Oracle CRM On Demand, the project
with numerous regulations and—to sends business leaders running for the
cost less than a traditional approach
avoid adding risk—avoid fracturing hills, know this: We’re not talking time-
and integrated effectively with the
existing controls. Working with consuming or costly. Rather, the message
DOE’s existing environment.
Accenture, the company launched is more organic: SaaS is inspiring new
With such savings in mind, many operating models. Embrace its more
a SaaS governance and release
business leaders are now asking: network-centric approach to information
management program, through
might any cumbersome enterprise sharing, collaboration and innovation.
which it monitors every SaaS
application move to the cloud unless And as you iterate your software using
application’s evolution, ensuring
proven otherwise? And what about SaaS, seize the opportunity to refine
it conforms to business rules for
adopting SaaS not just at the customer- your business practices.
requirements gathering, process
facing edge—for CRM and customer
definition and compliance controls. By advocating that businesses first lay the
service, HR and marketing—but even for
groundwork—configuration, integration,
core systems such as ERP and financials? 4. Increase collaboration.
a healthy collaboration environment and
Beyond being an application procurement
Five ways to quickly a well-designed roadmap—for any major
technique, for many organizations SaaS
maximize SaaS benefits provides a baptism into agile development
SaaS project, Accenture isn’t trying to
To know when and which SaaS throw a wrench into enterprise SaaS
practices and the business benefits of
applications to adopt, and then to adoption. Rather, we’re saying: Do begin
iteration. For example, one European
maximize their benefits, Accenture fast. Progress quickly. Remain flexible.
telecommunications company has
recommends organizations pursue Pursue beneficial network effects.
applied these precepts to foster greater
these five strategies: But as you cultivate that mindset,
transparency and demand much greater
1. Build a good foundation. collaboration between the business and also build a foundation that you can truly
IT groups which create new applications rely on, pursue transformative capabilities,
To lower total costs and ensure
using SaaS. As a result, it now releases and verify that the appropriate controls
infrastructure remains highly scalable,
major functionality not once per year, are in place to ensure that SaaS supports
start projects right. For example, before
but every six weeks. This approach also new business processes, rather than
adopting salesforce.com, one French
helps the company balance what a SaaS breaking them. In other words, to move
cable provider worked with Accenture
application can do (via customizations) at speed and rapidly achieve benefits
to overcome the complex data migration,
with what it should do (to remain cost- from SaaS, use the above five strategies
cleansing and integration challenges for
effective and manageable). to start right, and keep moving.
hundreds of thousands of records stored
in data warehouses. Interestingly, this 5. Maintain a dynamic roadmap.
up-front work did not impair project speed
Constantly study, test and pilot
or increase the total cost of ownership.
SaaS to identify, from a functionality
Rather, it enabled the organization to
perspective, the next tipping point
rapidly align its sales processes, integrate
About Accenture
Accenture is a global management
consulting, technology services
and outsourcing company, with
more than 176,000 people serving clients
in more than 120 countries. Combining
unparalleled experience, comprehensive
capabilities across all industries and
business functions, and extensive research
on the world’s most successful companies,
Accenture collaborates with clients to
help them become high-performance
businesses and governments. The
company generated net revenues
of US$21.58 billion for the fiscal
year ended Aug. 31, 2009. Its home
page is www.accenture.com.

Copyright © 2010 Accenture For more information on how to maximize


All rights reserved. the benefits of SaaS, please contact:
Accenture, its logo, and Saideep Raj
High Performance Delivered saideep.raj@accenture.com
are trademarks of Accenture.