Today I’m going to answer a question from Stephane, the co-founder of a consulting company. His question is…

How do I productize a service with a SaaS platform?

Before answering this question, let’s add a bit of context.

Stephane has a huge experience as a consultant, with lots of knowledge and know-how to systematize. That gave him the idea to build a Web platform that could facilitate his clients’ work and enable them to reach their goal almost automatically.

Building a startup also means building a fast-growing business. It also means that it’s only possible by systematizing manual tasks and creating lots of tools for it.

Let’s see how it works with an illustration.

Building a startup is not an overnight success. It takes years to happen. So, it’s all about envisioning what your solution will be at the end (vision of a fully scalable solution).

Your vision may be providing customers 70% to 80% of the value automatically (you will still need some customer services, etc., which means a bit of manual tasks as well)

But starting to build this solution will usually not work at all. Why?

Because your current clients or users are now at the bottom, which means they do (or ask you to do) things manually.

And how do you ask them to move from what they are used to, to something which is far away from it? It’s going to take them a long time to get there.

The solution is simple: create some steps towards it to initially provide them a small value. Something that is, for example, initially 15% automatic, then another small value that is 30% automatic, then 50%, and so on.

Let’s see how this translates to Stephane’s work.

1. Start only once you’re an expert

Start developing a SaaS platform only when you have provided manual services and already know the process by heart. Once you’re already an expert in your industry and know how things work in detail, and now just want to systematize the processes, that’s the best time to think about creating your first SaaS solution.

2. Identify the processes 

Productization starts by identifying what the process is for your customer. How are they currently getting the service? The goal is to analyze every single task that you do on a regular basis if you or your clients do things manually.

For example, a consulting agency that has a huge expertise will have:

  • Onboarding
  • Quotation
  • Plan
  • Finding resources
  • Creation of solution/provision of value
  • Retrospective
  • Etc.

So, list down the entire process that you need to do. This is just an example for consulting, but it can be the same thing if you would create something like Uber or any type of shared economy, that’s going to be exactly the same process. You need to analyze how you’re going to bring someone from Point A to Point B.

3. Automate small parts

Then on this, start to analyze what can you systematize in a very simple way.

Where is it easier to automate the first manual task (for example, researching something, learning how something works, etc.)?

Usually, that’s going to be Onboarding. Simple–this is just going to be a form. Or maybe in the acquisition. Instead of having word of mouth to acquire users, you are going to use inbound marketing. For the Quotation, same thing. You can systematize the way you quote your proposal. The Planning, you can create some video content. Finding Resources, that’s more where you come to a SaaS solution and create a search engine, the first version of your Web platform with a database inside.

And so on.

Do keep in mind that you need not only to provide a solution, but to educate your clients to correctly use your solution as well as do some good job in terms of achieving and reaching their goals.

Basically, do not start by creating your platform. Start by providing services to your client, to your targeted market. Then systematize small parts of the service until the point where you will need to create a SaaS platform.

4. Start small when creating

And if you want to develop something or have to develop something, start as small as you can. Start by creating the material required for this single step (video courses, research tool, services to help people do something on their own, etc.).

Small things. You cannot create the platform you envision in five years over a month. You will have to go one step at a time.

What I want you to take out of this video is to never invest right away in the product you envision. Even if you can afford it.

Invest instead on the very first step that will provide a smaller value to your customers.

5. Confirm customer need

Also ensure that your customers are willing to pay for this first value before adding another automation on your customer experience. Confirm that your customer like your know-how and are willing to use your solution. And it’s also a matter of change management. You cannot anticipate everything, every customer behavior. So, learn by working with them.

Conclusion

So to conclude and answer Stephane’s question, don’t confuse vision and your next step. Start with a very small step that will provide value to your customers by having your final vision of your product in mind.

And if like Stephane, you have a specific question for your project, just go ahead and ask on myctofriend.co/ask. I will do my best to answer your question by video or to redirect you to any existing content that will answer it.

I publish a new video every week so subscribe now to be better at tech management and build your successful startup.

Also be sure to go through our other content here at myctofriend.co to learn more from real startup growth experiences.

I’ll be waiting for your questions, and I look forward to seeing you in other videos.