Getting Started with SaaS
This article is about a few key points that might help when someone transitions from a Software Services industry to a Product Industry.*
But first, what is the software services industry?
Most of us must have heard names such as TCS, Wipro, Accenture, Infosys, etc and getting a job at one of these companies was a matter of pride. Well, all these are companies that provide software services - people approach them with their requirement and the companies get it done. The subscription model of such contracts varies from case to case, it could either be a one-time charge or the customers can be charged for the support and maintenance provided as well.
Now that we have a basic understanding what services industry is, let’s look at the other side.
Think of apps like GSuite, Spotify or even Netflix – we don’t own it, we don’t host it on our own servers and neither are we responsible for it in any way but in order to use it, we pay for it periodically. Production, maintenance, and selling of such apps make up the product industry. Salesforce, Zendesk, Hubspot, Slack, Microsoft are a few major players in this space and the subscription model of such software is recurring – meaning we as customers need to pay the companies periodically to avail their Software as a Service.
Although the roles and responsibilities of a developer or a support person might be a lot similar, the main difference between these two industries lies primarily in the development, hosting and sales cycles//.
A broader picture of how the Services Industry works:
In Services, the very first step would be to get the client’s list of requirements and find all possible ways to try and implement most of it, if not all. This involves multiple rounds of discussion to finalize everything from how the data needs to be stored till the placement of every single button on the screen. Once this is done, a contract is put in place and the Project starts after which comes the POC(Proof of Concept). A bit of back and forth goes on in this stage as well in order for the product to be shipped. Often after product shipping, a dedicated support team sits with the development team to support the client as they start using the software.
Looking at the bigger picture, there isn’t much of an effort for a sales or marketing team to be involved in the customer lifecycle and since it is highly customized as per every client’s requirement, one product cannot be shipped to a different client although the basic requirement might be quite similar.
A broader picture of how the Product Industry works:
The product lifecycle here starts with identifying a common problem and to what extent it can be solved. Since this means catering to a significant chunk of the market chosen, the product developed will be generic with a very limited scope of customization. The next step will be to bring in potential customers who evaluate the product and subscribe if it fits the requirement on hand. Of course, there is a huge army of Sales, Pre Sales, Support, Onboarding, Customer Success and Marketing(known as GTM put together) involved in selling the product to the customer and making sure they realize the value of what they are paying for.
It is virtually impossible for the Product industry to function without all the teams collaborating with each other and of course, there is always a feedback loop that runs throughout the cycle. This is to ensure that the product is up to market standards and on par with the ones they are competing with.
I hope this gives you a basic idea of what to expect about companies in the Services and Product domains. Stay tuned for more articles coming up on related topics.
*This article is to give the readers a basic understanding of the Services and Product Industry from the views of a person who has been in the Product industry all their career. If you find something wrong, feel free to drop in a comment. Suggestions are always welcome!