Continuing my blog series on bridging to SaaS success, today I want to talk about transitioning from a linear to a circular organization architecture. Once I have adopted a SaaS Mindset, the next think I need to do is build the supporting infrastructure to SaaS success. In this context, your infrastructure is made up of your people and skills, your domain expertise and your organizational approach.

For the time being, let’s assume you’ve built/hired the technical skills you need, and you are sticking to your domain “knitting”, in other words you are an EXPERT in the needs and solutions you deliver and you are not simultaneously bridging to a new solution space as you move from product to service. If you lack the skills, then get them, if you are jumping domain AND delivery models, well, good luck, you’ll need it.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk organization. Today’s organization and its interaction with customers looks like this:

It’s linear, with sporadic customer contact. The product mindset we discussed in the last post is spikey and transaction oriented, and the organization’s linear structure is perfect to support this mindset.

But, as we move from a product to a services model and mindset, the organization must reflect the continuous and relationship oriented mindset we’ve adopted.

The organization must be
circular, surrounding the customer and look like this:

Because services are about experience, to truly optimize our experience delivery, we must collapse our organizations and surround the customer. Sales and Marketing, Dev and Ops and Support and Delivery must function as a tightly knit ecosystem, enveloping the customer in the highest quality service delivery possible, continuously.

This is a HARD transition to make, it requires executive commitment and drive, and constant attention. However, market leaders MUST do this or they will fundamentally remain a product company, which is the kiss of death for any SaaS provider. Marc Benioff was wrong when he said the “End of Software”, he should have said the “End of Products”.

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