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Is a Hybrid Support Service model key to a successful SaaS Implementation?

Introduction

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has evolved to become the most preferred choice for software product implementation. With multiple positives such as improved time to market, cost-efficiency, and continuous innovations and updates, SaaS products have become the go-to for businesses of all sizes.  


But what is SaaS?

Put simply, SaaS is a method of software delivery where an application (or a product) is hosted on a cloud by the service provider. This application can then be accessed by the customer over a network.

However, most companies struggle with SaaS maintenance and offering a superior user experience to their users on the application.

One of the primary reasons for this is that digital technologies are evolving rapidly which require specialized and up-to-date product knowledge. Basic IT support just is not able to support the business requirement at a rapid pace. So, this leaves companies looking for the right support model to meet the ever-changing demand of the users.  


Types of Support Services Models

So what are the different types of SaaS support services models that a business can choose from?

Based on factors such as the criticality of the application, user base, etc., businesses usually adopt one of these two conventional support services models:

  • ● In-house or internal service support
  • ● External service support
 


In-house Service Support

In-house or internal service support involves a dedicated IT team within the organization that handles day-to-day operations of the SaaS products and handles queries or issues relating to the products. An in-house team must be proficient when it comes to the SaaS product knowledge and have the capacity to manage the workload

    Pros
  • ● Acts as a single point of contact for business users
  • ● With an internal team, product knowledge is retained within the organization
  • ● Since product knowledge is retained in-house, the ongoing support and maintenance of the application becomes easy
  • ● An internal team has a good understanding of customer-specific processes and product which will help in adopting the product faster

    Cons
  • ● Training and maintaining an in-house team can be expensive with the support cost over-running the implementation cost at times
  • ● An in-house team has to fulfil multiple roles and hence may not have the bandwidth to offer constant support
  • ● Due to limited availability, they may not be able to update their expertise on ever-evolving products and technologies, leading to knowledge gaps
  • ● The internal teams are often not familiar with the product roadmaps resulting in them not adopting new features in the product
  • ● There are often no committed SLAs (Service Level Agreements) to resolve issues
 


External Service Support

In an external support model, the company partners with a service support entity, usually the product implementation partner, to get support and guidance for the product as per requirement.

    Pros
  • ● The product’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is drastically reduced, hence increasing its cost-effectiveness
  • ● There is access to a wider pool of product experts
  • ● Most external support providers provide automated maintenance, in turn making routine product maintenance more efficient

    Cons
  • ● There won’t be a focus on driving product improvements adoption in the application.
  • ● Usually, no no formal governance available due to the low volume of tickets
  • ● There are often no committed SLAs to resolve issues. This is usually managed based on the capacity available with partners

Considering the drawbacks in both these support models, is there an approach that combats these challenges and offers better service support?

Yes, there is.  


Hybrid/Shared Service Support

The hybrid or shared service support model combines the best of both conventional support models, i.e., internal and external support. You hire an in-house team to take care of core processes while an external support partner is consulted for critical support requiring more expertise.

This is an SLA-based support model where both the internal and external entities have definite roles to fulfil. While the internal team takes care of everyday support, the external team is consulted in case of complex product-related queries, or in case of additional functionality implementation. Since the external team consists of a wider pool of product experts, they can guide the company better when it comes to upgrading their product to be in line with the evolution in technology.

At Blueprint Technologies, we believe that the evolution of a cloud-based SAP product will consist of moving from a fixed capacity, dedicated support to a Shared Service model, that is need-based.  


Why Adopt the Hybrid Support Model?

The current technological scenario demands that companies consider shifting from exclusive in-house, full-time support to a need-based Hybrid/Shared Service Model.

In a nutshell, here are some reasons why you should consider adopting the hybrid approach for your company.

  • ● Cost reduction Since you end up spending less on the hiring and training of large internal IT teams, the support cost is significantly reduced. Also in terms of securing external support, it is need-based and hence cost-effective

  • ● Streamlined IT functions The internal IT team can shift from full-time fire-fighting as there is no need to focus on SaaS troubleshooting. This cuts down on the need to have large internal teams for support. Instead, the internal teams can focus on streamlining the existing IT functions and improving their tech offerings and solutions

  • ● Increased Flexibility In case the client is using a product that no longer addresses their requirements, the external support team can offer new technology, patches, and upgrades and also suggest OOTB solutions to meet the requirements

  • ● Reduction in downtime The internal team can take care of issues during core working hours while external support can kick in outside of these hours

  • ● Better Support Since the external partners are more experienced and are constantly in tune with the current technological scenario, they can better guide a company on what product offerings to adopt and invest in. This also helps fill in any knowledge gaps that the internal team may have

  • ● User Experience The external support partner is constantly ensuring product usability and offers support in case of issues, and guidance in case of new patches to move into a higher functionality. This in turn improves the user experience considerably

 


Points to Note

Here are some points to remember when implementing a SaaS product using a Shared Service model:

  • ● Since the product support is divided between the internal and external teams, extensive product customizations can prove to be hard to manage when offering support. Hence, it is imperative that one sticks to the core processes defining the product

  • ● Companies must refrain from following an ‘over-the-wall approach where all critical support is handed over to the external support partner. Instead, there should be active involvement of the internal IT layer
 


Conclusion

With several advantages such as cost efficiency, reduced downtime, better user experience, and greater expertise, the Hybrid Support Service Model is the future of efficient and effective SaaS product implementation.

This approach combines the benefits of the two conventional support models while combating their challenges to offer streamlined, need-based product support with superior expertise.  


About The Author

Vaideeswaran S
Vaideeswaran S

Director - Enterprise Applications, Blueprint Technologies

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