Software as a Service (SaaS) is now the largest segment in the public cloud market. This model transformed having to be a large “well-oiled” company with lots of resources to virtually anyone being able to turn their ideas into software distributed to customers worldwide.
Whether you’re someone working on a software project close to your heart, part of a small team of devs in a startup, or a larger business, chances are that you’re delivering your services (or planning to) using a SaaS model.
How do you properly provide functionality for your customers and ensure your developers focus only on what’s necessary and produce high-value apps? By scaling. In this article, we discuss how you can scale the development of your SaaS product features and how an Environment as a Service solution can help.
How to Scale SaaS Product Features Development
We’ll cover each phase of the SaaS model lifecycle, which looks something like this:
1. Pre-startup - researching problems and solutions to prepare to enter the market
2. Startup - the product development stage
3. Growth - start scaling and handling more complex processes
4. Maturity - your position on the market is stable and your client base is constantly expanding.
Scaling will eventually become the norm as SaaS popularity continues to grow. However, done wrong, scaling can hurt your business and undermine the development process. That’s why it’s vital to focus on the following steps to ensure your devs are not only more efficient when working on features but that you’re focusing on removing bottlenecks, and much, much more.
Ask yourself the critical questions
For the pre-startup phase, find out what issue(s) your SaaS solves for your customers first. Afterward, you can focus on how you’ll create the product and who will be a part of your team. If you don’t take these initial steps, you’ll waste precious development time and resources on a useless product. Conversely, each answer will bring you one step closer to finding what you need to focus on. Ask yourself questions like:
- What’s the current market size for this product? Is there enough demand for a new one?
- What are the customer pain points? How are these pains solved currently?
- What are some disadvantages to the current solutions on the market?
- How will my product be better than your competitors’?
Getting answers for which customers to target, which features to prioritize, how to price your product, and how to acquire customers are all just as important (if not more!) as coding, testing, deploying, and monitoring usage in production. Once you have answers to these key questions, continue with research in the following areas:
- Market research
- Customer research
- Competitor research.
Next, decide which cloud vendor you’ll work with to build, automate, and operate your features and apps. Whether you’re an early-stage startup, a large business, or a development agency, Bunnyshell has a cost-effective, fast to implement, easy-to-use solution for you - Environment as a Service (EaaS). An EaaS platform not only helps you automate processes to decrease your developers’ workload but also helps you build a high-velocity dev team. More on this later.
Focus on product development
In the project discovery (or startup) phase, you’re ready to focus on building your SaaS business, which follows the standard software development stages:
- Business analysis - you collect product requirements and create customer journey maps to come up with the most efficient process for your customers
- Design - you get your design team to create low-fidelity prototypes
- Development - your team uses the tools they have to develop the SaaS product. Your devs can make the SaaS platform more customizable at each layer, focusing on its interface, integrations, features, page templates, and URL structure
- Testing and debugging - to ensure everything goes well, you must test each iteration. This is possible through test environments (using an EaaS solution) to test individual components and staging environments for a more streamlined and collaborative approach for the whole app
- Product maintenance - ensuring your product is always up to date with the latest market trends.
You must ensure your team knows how to create a SaaS product and that you’re focusing on a high-quality user experience if you want to create something of value. Take into account that, as the number of users increases, so must the capacity of your app. Good scalability will allow you to keep up with your growing customer base. Additionally, you should be able to work with your team to identify development changes.
Grow your development team
Developers are a crucial part of your business as your SaaS product grows. You need a more robust and bigger workforce to keep the same level of quality while you scale. Each team will look different as skill sets and project needs differ, but consider the following team configuration:
- Business Analyst
- Project Manager
- UX/UI Designer
- Backend, Frontend, and/or Mobile Developer
- QA Tester.
Three particular areas where developers can help you scale include:
- Billing, payments, and subscriptions - start with scaling your billing process when customer invoices and reminders are ready for automation. Your subscription process can become complicated very fast if you ignore that subscriptions heavily influence billing. You may get stuck with a recurring billing system that won’t benefit you or your team and can cause customer experience to decline. Pro tip: automating your billing processes (and customer outreach) makes your scaling more successful. EaaS platforms make this automation process much more manageable.
- New feature development - developers can move much faster when adding new features to improve UX or eliminate bugs with a SaaS app (because SaaS product releases happen all the time). Your focus should always be on improving the app’s performance. With the help of additional developers, or EaaS feature branches (which allow devs to work individually on separate branches while other devs can review the changes), you’re able to reach the market faster.
- Deployments and cloud management - the planning and proper architecture should be on point for scaling and automating deployments. Consider the following steps:
Ensuring your apps are containerized with Docker before deployment
Using the cloud management software Kubernetes to automate deployments and manage your cloud resources (both Docker and Kubernetes can be used together with Bunnyshell)
You already know from our continuous integration and continuous deployment article how vital they are in developing, testing, and releasing new versions of software continuously. They are the most important part of your SaaS process while scaling.
Your cloud infrastructure should be secure and stable, offering options like automatic restart and restoring from failure. Data security should also be a priority, as you can lose customer trust if you suffer any data loss. Thankfully, Bunnyshell has a 24/7 service for customers, including additional support documents, so you’re never alone in your journey. Additionally, once you’re up and running, don’t forget to automate signups, upgrades, and cancellations with an EaaS solution so you can spend more time on your product instead.
Continuously improve your customer experience
Once you reach the growth stage, it becomes necessary to scale up without compromising reliability or performance. Customer experience is crucial at this point. As people start seeing the value of your product, they’ll start using it every day. That’s why you should give your customers a voice when it comes to your app, in the form of reviews and feedback opportunities. Additionally, ensure they have a smooth onboarding experience by keeping the following things in mind:
- Signup/sign in - logging in with social media or an email address
- Welcome screen - this screen should make current or prospective customers feel welcome and allow them to quickly understand key points about your product
- Product tour with core features - you may include a step-by-step intro, usually on three-four screens
- An email campaign - this will help retain customers, create a more personalized experience for them, and help with customer referrals for an even higher ROI.
Don’t forget to check out our article How to Optimize Your SaaS Release Management with EaaS to further enhance customer experience and stay up-to-date with new product features.
Launch Features as Soon as They’re Ready, with EaaS
As you can see, EaaS helps with scaling product features in many ways, all while being an economically viable option too. You’ll be able to scale product feature development for each phase of the SaaS model lifecycle and much more. Rapid debugging, adaptive scalability, and instant deployments are just a few of the solutions Bunnyshell offers SaaS businesses.
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