When a company has been successful and begins to scale, it is an exciting time and a validation of the product and the team. Investors are interested, customers are interested, and maybe even the media wants to learn what the secret to success has been.
Congratulations, but it is time to think about the growing pains that will inevitably crop up. You will begin to hire new people at a rate like never before. How will you train all those people? Teams will buy new systems to support their goals, and data will be in silos. Those new sales people will be doing non-standard deals that you may regret later. Product management will make commitments the developers can’t meet. Finance will want forecasts that engineering does not want to produce. The once simple implementation process will drag out for months and leave customers fuming. There will be many more issues, but you get it, growth brings growing pains.
What to do? Getting ahead of the problem or getting a handle on an existing problem happen the same way, and the solution is pretty straight forward – understand capabilities, establish metrics and controls, train, and digitize. Over this and next few posts we’ll tackle each of these areas to make sure you deal with growth in the right way. First up – understanding capabilities…
To understand capabilities, you need to look at what your business does. A SaaS software business has:
- Develop products and services
- Generate demand
- Manage finances
- Manage business
- Host software
Some organizations slim down this list even further to just build, sell, deliver, enable. However you want to segment the business is up to you, as long as it is at the level of “what” and not at the level of ” how” you are going to be fine.
Identification of the top-level capabilities is an important first step, but this should be pretty easy. The next step is trickier and involves discovery of second level capabilities. Second level capabilities are normally major functions like recruiting, on boarding, billing, vendor management, implementation, training, product management and product development. Tip: there are standards for some functions that may help get you part of the way there, ITIL is one such example and the APQC Process Framework (SM) is another.
Unlike the top-level capabilities, it is not enough to just acknowledge they exist. Here you need to understand the processes that support the function and capture a lot of information about each process. OpsVantage recommends capturing:
- Business criticality
- Systems required
- Growth projection
- Impact to customer satisfaction
We use specialized software and a proprietary evaluation methodology that results in a numerical score able to rank what are the most important areas to work on first, but you can do something similar by using your own expertise and understanding of your company to evaluate the data collected.
Depending on how you want to share this information, a variety of different graphic options can help get your message across, but we prefer a single page view that will fit on an 11 x 16 sheet so decision makers can see everything at a glance.
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