Streamlining your SaaS product workflow is crucial to reducing your time-to-market. That will not only create a more cohesive, productive product team but keep you ahead of the competition– a vital edge in an increasingly competitive tech industry.
How? Faster product development and release cycles also give sales and customer success teams more to work with when they’re chasing down leads, cross-selling, and upselling. Customer satisfaction increases when customers know that fixes, improvements, and launches are always fast and products are consistently reliable.
Here’s how you can find the right system to streamline your own SaaS product workflow and implement it across your organization (hint: you’ll need buy-in from more than just the product team).
Refining your product team as part of streamlining your SaaS product workflow is vital to improving your organization’s time-to-market. Without efficient systems in place, product team members are stuck doing repetitive manual work that could be automated, getting constantly interrupted by other team members asking for the latest roadmap updates, and so much more that slows down progress.
Product Managers are constantly balancing demands on their time around product development lifecycles, from customer research to cross-team collaboration and more. The biggest bottlenecks typically occur around inefficient communication touchpoints and cross-team dependencies. For example, the product team depends on engineers to build out products and features, but those processes slow way down when communications aren’t streamlined.
PMs also find themselves getting constantly interrupted throughout their workday with team members asking for updates or the latest version of collateral, making it difficult or impossible to get any deep work done. That leads to burnout, higher turnover, and ultimately a negative impact on revenue.
In order to prevent this, every product team needs to assess where they are especially blocked, identifying where resources can be reallocated and what systems should be adopted in order to streamline operations and reduce time-to-market.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for product teams; every team has to decide which approach will work best for them both today and as they scale. Some teams take a lean product management approach, while others go with agile methodologies or rely on a Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework. Some teams combine these in ways that make the most sense for them.
A deep dive of each methodology is beyond the scope of this blog post, but here’s a quick overview of each one as a starting point:
With any of these approaches, teams should work to evaluate their entire workflow and ask where there are repetitive tasks and processes that can be automated. Clear guidelines also need to be set for decision-making and prioritization – especially with product roadmaps and communicating them out across the organization – according to the chosen framework.
Every process is one that will constantly need to be tweaked, especially as teams grow and scale.
It’s important to understand agile methodologies and the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework at a high level, plus how they can work together for maximum impact.
An agile approach to software development puts product managers in the trenches with the dev team, shortening product development cycles by focusing on one iteration at a time that incorporates team retrospectives and customer feedback along the way. In other words, instead of building out an entire complete product and then asking for feedback about it (not great if it turns out it’s not what customers need or they hate its functionality), the process is broken into smaller pieces or “sprints”.
Each sprint is carefully planned so the entire team is on the same page and knows their responsibilities. Once the sprint is over, the team does a retrospective to break down what went well, what went wrong, and how the entire team can do better on the next one. This approach keeps teams focused not only on their work but also on how they can do that work better, together.
It also allows teams to incorporate feedback sooner, both from beta testers and key stakeholders. The latter focus on keeping the product team’s work aligned with greater business goals, so everyone is working as efficiently as possible toward the same end.
Ultimately, this approach serves to shorten product development lifecycles; no complete product has to be scrapped and completely reinvented, breaking promises to customers, leaving the sales team empty handed, and negatively impacting revenue as competitors rush to fill in the gap.
JTBD asks the question “what job is a customer trying to do?” but then analyzes it to make sure the product being developed meets their actual need– which isn’t always the same thing as what they said they need. For example, if you’re building cars, a customer might say that they want a faster car. The actual problem they’re trying to solve is getting from one place to another faster; the car itself isn’t necessarily the best or only solution.
Keeping the last point in mind allows you to get more creative with your product development solutions than simply taking the customer’s answer at face value and building to it. The customer is still centered because it’s their fundamental need that you’re working to meet; the job they are trying to do.
Pairing this deep customer work with an agile approach gives you the best chance for determining product-market fit faster than with traditional approaches to product development. When you know the true pain point of the customer and you’re willing to open yourself up to continuous feedback in order to build a solution, you can build something better, quicker.
The drawback to this approach is how labor intensive deep customer research can be. That also makes it a great area for automation! What kinds of tools can your team adopt in order to capture, organize, and analyze customer feedback so it can continuously be incorporated into your development cycles?
And now that we’ve broken down different approaches to streamlining your product workflows, it’s time to take a look at your sales systems.
The basic process for streamlining every team is the same: take stock of where you are now, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. Once you’ve chosen an approach for the product team and implemented it, apply it to other teams in the organization for maximum impact.
Streamlining sales is your next best move to shorten your time-to-market.
The first step is always identifying inefficiencies and bottlenecks in your current sales process, starting with evaluating the tools and systems you have in place. Do an audit that asks the following:
A lot of these common bottlenecks are related to communication and collaboration. In order to resolve them, you’ll need to also take stock of team roles, particularly how they effect cross-team collaboration. What systems are currently in place for cross-team communication and collaboration? How can they be redesigned or improved? Are there tools or training that could help?
Decide on an organization-wide approach in order to get the most out of the improvements you plan to make. If you’ve decided to take an agile approach with product, do the same with sales. Break sales strategies into sprints that are evaluated, tweaked, and continuously improved.
Automation isn’t just for DevOps teams! Determine where you can streamline sales processes with automation to keep sales teams focused on the most important work instead of on repetitive, manual tasks.
If you already have automated tools in place, be sure the team is fully trained on how to use them in order to get the maximum benefit from the investment your organization has made in them.
Streamlining communication is absolutely vital to success; how do product teams currently keep sales teams updated on the roadmap? How does product marketing currently update sales on new features, products, and the language around them? Is there a single source of truth teams can rely on to find the most updated information and approved collateral?
Before implementing any changes, be sure you have taken baseline measurements of where sales team performance currently is. Then, set key metrics to regularly evaluate in order to determine the success of the newly streamlined workflow.
Consider the following metrics:
Be sure to regularly revisit and refine whatever processes you have in place, based on the feedback you get from these metrics and overall team satisfaction. Remember that your goals for your sales team (and any other team) should ultimately align with larger business goals.
Once you’ve decided on the system you’ll use to streamline your product team workflows alongside sales, you’ll have a system that improves your SaaS product time-to-market. Not only are features and products being built and shipped faster with customer feedback incorporated, but sales teams have the information they need in order to sell more effectively.
That gives you an edge over the competition, setting you up to capture more market share before they can launch their own products. Customers will be more excited about your innovative new products that you’re creating to address their specific pain points, increasing satisfaction and making them more likely to stick around, buy more, and recommend your brand.
You’ll also be primed to adjust quicker to market shifts with the systems already in place to capture new feedback and implement it. Automation and streamlined processes also mean cost savings.
All of this adds up to increased revenue for your organization – all from streamlining your SaaS product workflow.
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