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How and when should software agencies participate in strategic partnerships

How and when should software development agencies participate in strategic partnerships?

In what way will your partnership impact your customers?

Your customers expect from honesty and competency. By writing code and building beautiful products, the complexity of your skill set increases, and so does the budget.

Therefore it goes without saying that knowing really well what you do is more than appreciated by your customers.

The aspect of honesty spills into numerous areas – but let’s focus on being honest in what you offer and try to sell to your customers.

On one hand, honesty can mean not to unnecessarily increase billable hours just for the sake of it.

On the other hand, it also means being the best and most trusted advisor, offering the best help possible that you’re able to give. This is what you should aim for.

Expanding your range of services and becoming a partner offering complementary services is not only about increasing your revenue, but about honestly offering a service to your customer that will serve them in areas where you can’t help them.

What partnerships to form?

We can segment partnerships in the following categoriees.

  1. Tactical – short time span and quick revenue
  2. Strategic – combining strength of 2 companies to enter a new market or to reach awider market
  3. Operational partnerships – provide operating capabilities
  4. Channel/Sales partnerships – one company provides services and other sells it

While it’s common that many software development studios want sales partners to simply sell their service for them (wouldn’t that be great!), the fact is that actively recruiting partners that are not developers / outsources is incredibly difficult. Secondly, the performance is often not meeting expectations – only a small segment of partners actually brings in some revenue (around 1-2%).

So what should type of partnership would be ideal for you? Of course, it depends on your business situation…

But, strategic partnerships tend to be the best. You combine strengths, and seek a win-win-win situation where you and your partner work hard to deliver on your partnership agreement.

Who should you partner with?

Since we have our own partnership programme specifically aimed at development agencies, I will briefly discuss it here.

Our partners introduce us, or resell our SaaS marketing services to their existing or past clients. This effort doesn’t require any additional work beyond utilizing existing resources they have.

The development agencies that partner with us benefit these ways:

  1. Increased revenue per client – by introducing us or reselling our services
  2. Increasing the likelihood of future work with their client, as our marketing services generate revenue for them
  3. Superior offering and differentiation – more holistic offering for their lead generation
  4. Get clients from our pool of past customers

How to pick a partner

Choosing the right partner is crucially important. When working with a different business entity, the relationship cannot be simply about maximizing revenue and increasing sales, also about the overall approach and attitude. It boils down to alignment of the following key elements.

  1. Compatibility
  2. Clearly defined terms
  3. Trust
  4. Ease of delivery
  5. Support
  6. Great relationship

1. Compatibility

It goes without saying that in any partnership both parties need to be compatible in a myriad of aspects to reach a win-win situation. Partners need to be compatible in:

  • Services: Let’s say they provide done for you or sales consulting for SaaS companies, are your and your services compatible so you can offer them to your clients? Does it make sense from the commercial stand point, and will your clients be interested? Do are your and your partner not competing, but rather their services complement theirs?
  • Compensation: being on the same page regarding compensation is crucial – both parties have commercial interests as the main priority when entering a partnership
  • Culture fit: how well do ou do business, integrity, fair, but also – important to have a call to discuss thi

2. Clearly defined terms

Crystal clear terms, knowing what to expect, and having clearly communicated each party’s responsibilities is a safe way to avoid unpleasant surprises that can end in litigation. Here is what you need to be completely clear on:

  • Goals
  • Division of tasks and responsibilities
  • Payment terms
  • Data processing
  • Method of reviewing results

3. Trust

Mutual trust is important as it gives the confidence for both parties to push the project and partnership forward. Trust is built over time, but make sure to do due diligence before entering any partnerships, especially if you get into legally binding contracts.

4. Ease of delivery

Remember that if you’ve entered a strategic partnership, your role should not be doing something completely outside the scope of normal operation. How easy can you fulfill your responsibilities? Clearly – the easier the better.

In case of our partnership programme, we partner with software development agencies that refer us to their clients. There is minimal amount of effort involved, as they already established close relationship. This way, our partners enter a low effort but high reward situation.

5. Support

Receiving adequate support from your partner is needed to achieve the end goal of the partnership. Will they leave you to figure everything out? Or will they provide you with enough information to help you accomplish your part?

In our case, we provide our partners with information on how to introduce us, how to sell our services (if they want), and how to generate their top-of-funnel leads. We treat our clients’ success and growth as our own.

6. Great relationship

Business is ultimately conducted between people. Having a great working relationship with your partner, where you have enjoyable communication and find ways to solve problems, is going to greatly contribute to the overall success and duration of the partnership engagement.

How to partner with us

You can learn more about our partner programme on the dedicated page, including all the support and very competitive commission compensation you can receive.

To find out more about our partnership programme and whether there could be a professional fit to form a long-term win-win engagement, contact us now.

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How to build a SaaS product?

How to build a SaaS product?

Nowadays, the use of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications gains momentum throughout the globe. And this stands for a reason. SaaS applications obviate the necessity of downloading software, managing its install process, and configuring settings as well.

With a SaaS app, you don’t have to bother yourself with building the whole app functional at once. Instead, you can launch a demo version of your product with a limited scope of functions at once, and add new features over time.  For this reason, many startups give priority of building a SaaS app, since it is a budget-friendly and easy to maintain solution.

We have reviewed the vital aspects of SaaS app development lifecycle. If you want to start own SaaS project, our article “How to build” will suggest you seven tips for building a successful application.

 

Preparatory stage

1. Specify app’s core features

At the initial stage of development, you need to elaborate a clear concept of a SaaS application. It means you have to find out the target users’ needs and requirements.

With this information in mind, it will be easier for you to set up a goal for a SaaS application. It will define the scope of features that are essential for your app.

In fact, customer requirements may change over time. Nevertheless, there is some core features your SaaS app should have regardless of users demands and preferences.

Data protection and privacy

As SaaS applications are mostly cloud-based, there is always a risk of security breaches. Unlike the self-contained app that stores user data locally, a SaaS service tends to store it in a cloud. Thus, if there is a flaw in app’s security measures, user information can be easily compromised. For this reason, your SaaS application has to provide sustainable security measures that prevent data from stealing, compromising, and hacker attacks as well.

Nowadays, there is plenty of security patterns used to ensure data protection. Let’s consider the most popular ones.

  • Trusted database connection

Within this security pattern, a SaaS app connects to the database with the help of own process identity.

  • Customer data encryption

If your application is intended to store a bulk of sensitive high-value information, it should be efficiently encrypted in the databases.

  • Access control list

You can realize proper access control by implementing authentication and authorization processes in your SaaS app. User access is limited to a particular tenant during authentication and depending on access rights, to a specific module during authorization.

  • Restricted API

Restricted APIs provide limited capabilities of data manipulation.

 

Third-party app integration

In fact, there is plenty of accessible and useful applications that perform some particular functions truly seamlessly.  In such a manner, many users would like to have access to these apps at their fingerprints while using a SaaS application.

For this reason, it is worth considering a third-party app integration in a SaaS application. This way you can extend the capacities of your app’s functionality and avoid a need to build some additional features yourself.

As a result, a third-party app integration not only enriches your SaaS-application but also saves times and expenses of project development.

Personalization

There is a wide range of SaaS services for any taste and budget. If you want to make your app stand out of the other applications in a particular niche, it should offer personalization features.

When a customer can change the look of the app according to his/her preferences, he/she gets more pleasant experience from using your application.

2. Choose the right technology stack

It’s a well-known fact that modern software industry offers a dime a dozen of development tools that may come in handy while crafting a SaaS application. As most of these tools are open-source, they generate additional value for SaaS app creators.

How can you benefit from using open-source dev tools? First, you can reduce the expenses of app development by using free tools.

Second, the open-source solutions allow anyone to inspect your source code. This way you can engage more people in detecting bugs and security flaws. As a result, you will be able to react to tech issues more quickly.

Third, with the help of open-source software, you can easily customize your app and adapt it to any use case.

In the long run, the performance and expandability of your SaaS application will depend entirely on the chosen technology stack.

Development efforts

3. Build an effective development strategy

A development stage is a crucial part of an app project that calls for particular attention to every detail. If you want to propel a development process to the highest level and ensure app’s success, you need to choose a right methodology for product management. In fact, modern small and large businesses make such kinds of product management methodologies like Agile and Waterfall first choice.

Agile

Agile is a methodology which assumes using sprints in software development process. A sprint divides the whole project into small parts. Each part of the project is aimed at the implementation of a new feature for software.

As a rule, a sprint takes around two-four weeks for realization. In such a way, a development team crafts a product in a piecemeal manner.

Agile offers wide range of features including:

  • Building a cross-functional team
  • High profile on quick release of a shippable product
  • Regular and consistent client involvement
  • Fast response to changes

Due to the straight course of software building, the Agile methodology allows developers to iron out software features, foresee probable tech issues and respond to them promptly.

Waterfall

Unlike Agile, Waterfall is a more rigid model of software development. When a developers’ team have completed a particular stage of software building, it moves on to the next stages without a possibility to go back to the previous ones.

The main features of Waterfall:

  • Upfront gathering of client’s requirements
  • Sequential completions of tasks
  • Lack of client’s involvement at each development stage except for the initial one
  • Software testing as a final stage of the development lifecycle

There are still a lot of disputes among developers and project managers which methodology is the most suitable for app development.

To opt for the most optimal one for your project, you have to consider the following factors that should influence your decision:

  • Project size
  • Project duration
  • Development complexity
  • Organisational factors
  • Clients’ involvement

 

4. Apply regular tests

It goes without saying that any project will fail without continual thorough testings.

A SaaS app will provide an outstanding bug-free experience, only if you incorporate your development workflow with the following types of tests.

  • Unit testing

Within this method, a QA team conducts testings for each app’s module separately. It is aimed at isolating each unit of a system that makes bug identification and fixing more effective.

  • Integration testing

This type of testing allows checking how the separate units of the system work together.

  • Functional testing

With the help of functional tests, you can make sure your product’s functionalities meet client’s and developers’ requirements.

  • Performance testing

Performance testings pursue a goal to check out how new pieces of code can influence the overall app performance.

After all, it is worth considering the automatization of your testing processes. It will help you save time spent on manual tests, avoid human errors, runs tests unattended, and eliminate the risks of regression as well.

5. Ensure continuous integration

To amalgamate different pieces of code into the main path, you need to set up continuous integration.

How does CI work? The code testing begins automatically when developers push up their pieces of code into the shared repository. This way developers can quickly identify the incompatible fragments of code and carry out its debugging in time.

Product verification

6. Perform beta-testings

The final stage of app testing comes, when your demo version of a SaaS application is ready. A beta-testing will reveal whether your product is on the beam or not.

Getting feedback from your beta-testers, you will be able to elaborate and implement the app only those functionalities that meet users’ actual requirements and needs.

7. Provide proper support and maintenance

Before launching your SaaS application, you should make sure your developers’ team is ready to support and maintain it.

If you want to provide a seamless performance of your app, ongoing environment and infrastructure monitoring is a must. In such a way, it will be easier for your developers’ team to detect tech issues, resolve them at the first onset, and release the updates that will correspond users’ expectations and needs.

Summing up

A SaaS app development is a complicated process that consists of a research, development efforts, testings, and maintenance. Indeed, every step towards building a successful product requires a particular emphasis on details and effort commitment.

The tips mentioned above will help you set up an advantageous strategy for creating a robust SaaS product.

 

Short bio

Helen Morrice is a technical writer at IDAP Group. She is doing her best to keep abreast of up-to-date news in mobile app development.

If IT-stuff kindles your interest, check up her other articles in our blog and subscribe to our channel on Facebook/Twitter

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On-Premise vs SaaS: How to Choose the Right Enterprise Order Management System (OMS)

The average American spends $1,800 shopping online each year, according to the Statista Digital Market Outlook. That’s an enormous market. Efficient operations and great customer service will help you attract and retain more of those customers, and an Enterprise Order Management System (OMS) is designed to do just that—by improving internal operations, inventory management and stocking, and customer service. Picking the right one for your business is a big, complex decision, but it all starts from understanding which fundamental approach is right for you.

The Two Approaches to Enterprise OMS Deployment

There are many important decisions along the road to choosing an OMS, and one of the earliest you’ll need to make is the deployment model:

 

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): A SaaS solution is deployed and maintained by the vendor, on their local servers or on a cloud server. They’re responsible for maintenance, uptime, and hardware upgrades.
  • On-Premise Solutions: In this model, the software is installed on a local server, which is operated and maintained entirely by the eCommerce business.

 

Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the decision will depend on your strengths and needs.

SaaS Solution Pros & Cons

SaaS has transformed the tech world, including OMS, by providing solutions at a lower cost and with greater scalability. SaaS vendors can provide robust hosting environments, high performance, and excellent security and compliance features by distributing the costs across their many subscribers. You’re also protected from sudden spikes in cost, such as costly hardware upgrades, or emergency security patches. Deployment is generally simpler than an on-premise solution, allowing your tech team to focus on tackling other problems.

Data from Forrester Research shows that over one-fifth (21%) of OMS users at medium to large organizations have already made a switch toward SaaS for their primary OMS deployment. Another 40% are planning to either fully replace or complement their existing OMS with a SaaS solution over the next two years.

 

There are few drawbacks to SaaS deployment. For some large, long-established retailers, losing direct control over the server environment or having their data reside outside the company firewalls may be uncomfortable. If it’s important to you to have a direct role in security and compliance, SaaS will likely be out of the question. Finally, SaaS vendors have the power to schedule maintenance windows when necessary, so you may not have control over scheduled downtime.

What About On-Premise Solutions?

The market for on-premise OMS solutions is shrinking, but still going strong. Their strengths include the potential for greater customization, flexibility and dedicated custom IT environments designed for high scalability, which is valuable to large retailers with outstanding technical resources. If your company already has a powerful data center, you may be able to leverage that investment and reduce the cost of an on-premise deployment. Finally, you’d maintain complete control over your data, security, and compliance, which may make this model more palatable to some businesses.

 

According to Forrester Research, the average life expectancy for an enterprise ecommerce platform was over seven years in the last decade, but this trend is changing. Today, the pace of change and rapid innovation means that businesses that still host their own software will need to significantly upgrade their software as often as every four years. Thus, on-premises merchants will need to replatform every four to seven years. These shortening replatforming life cycles will continue to drive on-premise, licensed-based solution upgrades but we’ll see a gradual decline in the popularity of new on-premise solution installations going forward.

 

The weaknesses of on-premise deployments are considerable. There are a lot of unknowns and potential headaches, as your organization is entirely responsible for deployment and maintenance. IT costs can be highly variable and difficult to predict, and you’re responsible for hardware costs, network maintenance, monitoring, and security. These issues should be seriously weighed against the advantages of on-premise deployment.

First, Know Thyself

This important decision truly comes down to you: examine your operational strengths, current pain points, and plans for scale, and compare them against the pros and cons of each approach. This blog can help you start that process, but there’s plenty more to consider before making this complex, nuanced decision.

 

About the author:

Manish Chowdhary is the CEO of Pulse Commerce, the leading cloud platform for order & inventory management. He is a thought leader and speaker for technology innovation and all things ecommerce. In January 2017, Manish was recognized as one of The 30 Most Innovative Business Leaders by Insights Success Magazine. He has been featured in the New York Times, Internet Retailer, and other leading publications. Follow Pulse Commerce on LinkedIn for company updates and industry news.

 

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