Keep SaaS maintenance on track with these six tips October 22, 2018

Keep SaaS maintenance on track with these six tips

One of the traps a SaaS team can fall into is taking the time immediately following a launch or major release as a time to recuperate from the big push. Doing this is like taking your foot off the gas and your hands of the wheel just as you reach top speed.

Product managers, often unaware that they’ve significantly slowed down the pace of production, may not recognize that there’s an issue when MAUs and/or revenue start to flag. My goal for this post is to provide SaaS maintenance tips that can help you fix, or avoid altogether this type of problem.

1.Solicit Feedback

Do you have a complete view of things like what your SaaS product’s most important features are, and where the most critical issues live? You won’t ever know unless you ask. So, make sure you have a mechanism in place to solicit, document and prioritize features from customers, team members and developers.

2. Ask Questions

Users change over time, and so does their interpretation of your product and its features. To stay on top of this, be sure that you're always asking what customers really want.  Have you changed your features much since you launched or have you modified instructions where a buttons located, the amount of white space on the page or otherwise altered UI? Find out what your customers think about the changes and tweak accordingly.

3. Catalog Issues

Between bugs, internal and customer feedback, maintenance items can stack up quickly.  When that happens, it’s important to have a mechanism for cataloging and prioritizing them. I recommend developing a common-ground scoring system that allows everybody to understand what you’re working on, as well as when and why you’re working on it.

Often, SaaS teams will have a full-time manager working on this. And while a (very patient) technical lead can also fill this role, it’s always my preference to have a QA professional on the job.

4. Evangelize your road map

Maintaining a SaaS platform requires solid planning, but don’t let the jorgon-y term scare you. If you’ve ever created a list of features that you want to add over time,  you’ve built a product roadmap.

Once you have it, share it with your internal team and customers. Let them know it's coming. Be sure to announce the release of even the smallest feature so they know you're hard at work making sure that their needs are met is an important part of SaaS maintenance.  We recommend a full-time product manager that is competitive and exciting not only for those building it but for the subscribers of your system.

5. Communicate

Publishing a system status page where you can let everyone know if all the parts of your system are up and running or not. Not only does it cut down on service communication; It’s a way to grow trust with your growing customer base.

The status page must be real time and include current and historical data; ideally in the format of a bar or line chart.

Along the same lines, keep your team informed, across the organization. Responsibility for maintaining internal and external communication most often falls to a full-time project manager.

6. Maintain redundancy

One of the biggest dangers to a great SaaS product is that there’s often a single Visionary that must follow the products through every support incident, version, release and development team meeting. Not only is this a great way burn someone out, it also creates a single point of failure. A full-time product manager should act as an understudy to the visionary, creating an internal following and allowing them to stand-in for, or if necessary, replace the visionary outright.  

For all the same reasons, it’s also a great idea to have at least two senior/lead developers on the project.

Conclusion

These suggestions may seem like common sense, and they should, but the challenge here is in the execution, as opposed to the idea. It’s a lot to keep track of - and that’s why I wrote this post. If you find that you have trouble keeping up with some of these things, I hope it helps you upgrade your practice and find new growth.

Drop me a line let me know how it works!

Jeff Schafer

Written by Jeff Schafer

Jeff joined Metisentry in early 2017 as part of our merger with Pantek, which had previously acquired Pencilneck, the custom software firm that Jeff founded and ran for over a decade. His background as a software developer, systems architect, project manager, strategist and entrepreneur position Jeff well for his current role as Metisentry's Chief Revenue Officer. In his capacity as CRO he is responsible for attracting, identifying and building collaborative relationships with partners seeking to transform their businesses through the effective application and management of custom, cloud-based software solutions.