SaaS – Software as a Service Panel




Some Background on Companies Represented:


What are the differences with Managing SaaS?

Product Manager Role

1. Enterprise Product planning cycle’s typical timeframe 18 months/upgrade


2. SaaS



Q: If you release every 2 weeks (some folks in audience do) how do you ever have a major release?


Answer: Andrew…

For example, QBOE has 125k customers, we have a release every 3 weeks. We need to balance short vs. long. We set celebration points, which might take 3 releases to accumulate enough new stuff…a new feature might already be out by the time you officially announce it.


Many releases have no fanfare, e.g. might announce it 2 months later to wait for critical mass


Salesforce.com – bundles releases on a seasonal basis

- One big educational push each season

- Platform team – tends to be longer cycles e.g. 2 times/year


Ken: On a 3 week release cycle we work in parallel. We may be QA-ing one release, developing the next, and writing requirements for a third.


Salesforce.com says they also work on 3 releases in parallel


The great thing about SaaS is that measurement is easy. We track logins, and feature clicks, and they are sent out in reports


What don’t you do?


Less documentation e.g. we use informal blogs (1-3 pages) for an MRD

Decision making pushed down in an agile world…less beauracracy


What if you develop both off-line and on-line apps


Better to develop online using a separate team, that way they are not hamstrung with offline team commitments. One team for both creates too much friction with resource allocation. If you like root canal develop both together! It will cause a massive civil war e.g. Seibel… separate them and let the groups compete on their own.


How do you get feedback on new features?


Online apps mean one release, multi tenet, to all your customers

Easy to drive feedback

Salesforce.com’s online community has 1 MM subscribers, and the most active area is for feature requests

Recently we had customers post in an idea exchange and each customer could vote on their favorite new idea/feature. Each PM had a category of ideas that they monitor/respond. We can see reporting to see what our customers are voting for. (Dell has idea storm)


Risk being too reactive, the community is only one touch point, and must be weighed against the strategic roadmap


Use an internal brainstorm DB to capture ideas from remote employee sites so they can also be heard


Caution…customers are good at sharing their problems, but not necessarily the best solution


All our staff meetings start with a usage report and input from surveys, phone, and face-to-face with customers.


What about SLAs?


We try not to talk about them, and it doesn’t come up very often. At trust.salesforce.com you can see our servers, traffic, status. Most pick an industry standard figurre such as 99.5% uptime


With Agile’s short cycles, how does usability fit in?


Usability is even more important! You can’t afford the feature bloat in an on-premise solution. Our PM team is comprised of 2/3 usability experts (Ken).


Example…Scott Cook at Intuit is the Delight Officer, and our usability labs run around the clock. (Andrew)


(thanks to Mark Shulman for these notes)