How to Get Team Alignment on Your SaaS Product Launch

How to Get Team Alignment on Your SaaS Product Launch

Product teams play a central role in navigating the challenges facing SaaS products in an increasingly competitive market, often driving their success or failure. The shift to subscription-based models means an increased focus on delivering continuous value to customers, keeping them satisfied to reduce churn. 

Product teams strive to meet evolving customer needs as technology rapidly advances, bringing with it even more data for teams to sift through to drive decision-making on what matters to customers and prospects. Teams also have to stay nimble – pivoting to meet market changes ahead of the competition – while staying secure and compliant. On top of that, teams are increasingly asked to do more with less, emphasizing the need for resource optimization. 

Tapping into workflow automation helps product teams optimize their resources – and when done right, it also improves product strategy communication across teams in a proactive rather than reactive way. 

This sets organizations up for success in working toward full team alignment on SaaS product launches. We’ll break it down, one piece at a time. 

Resource Optimization for SaaS Product Managers

The only constant in SaaS organizations – including when it comes to product launches – is the demand that product teams do more with less. That makes it crucial for teams to optimize their resources in a way that frees key team members up to do the deep work that’s needed to keep everyone aligned and launches on schedule. 

There’s no shortage of challenges when it comes to making that demand a reality for product teams. 

Resource Allocation Challenges

There are specific resource allocation challenges faced by SaaS product managers, including: 

  • Developer availability: product teams may or may not have dedicated engineers; having to share developers with competing priorities across an organization gives little room for error on product roadmap margins. Development teams also have to balance competing priorities between product and feature development, bug fixes, and paying down existing technical debt.  
  • Scaling sustainably: as a business grows, infrastructure to support SaaS products must also grow while remaining reliable for customers. 
  • Customer research: resources have to be dedicated to ensuring product teams are building what customers actually need (often different from what they say they need) to solve their problems. 
  • Security and compliance: ensuring the safety of customer data is one of the most important things product teams do when planning, building, launching, and maintaining SaaS products.
  • Cross-functional team support: product teams provide support to sales, marketing, and customer success teams, ensuring everyone is updated on the latest product roadmaps, has the resources they need to promote and sell products, and provides customer support when necessary.  

Added to these specific challenges are the everyday demands from customers for integration with their specific tech stack, deciding which features and products to prioritize, and keeping it all under budget. 

With this many competing priorities, resource bottlenecks are a huge productivity killer for product development. Not having enough engineers means products aren’t built, or bugs aren’t fixed. Scaling issues mean new customers are left disappointed and turn to a competitor. Product teams must identify and repair any resource bottlenecks affecting their workflows, particularly around SaaS product launches

Current workflows need to be honestly assessed and evaluated to see where automation could be implemented to do more with less and come up with a plan for how to address any other bottlenecks – often found around communication and collaboration across teams. 

Cross-Team Alignment and Collaboration

No successful product team works completely alone; collaboration with key stakeholders in teams like marketing, sales, and customer success is crucial to understanding customer pain points and addressing them in product roadmaps. 

Collaboration and communication across teams need to be as proactive and seamless as possible. Product teams can’t wait to be interrupted by members of other teams - like the marketing team - asking where to find the latest approved product language or other collateral. That approach slows down productivity for everyone. 

Instead, invest in tools and systems that proactively push out information around the latest product team activities and store them in a place that acts as a single source of truth. This way, other teams know exactly where to go to find what they need and precious time is saved across the organization.

There are methodologies like agile that can help teams streamline their workflows further, especially the development team. The key is getting organization-wide buy-in and adopting any specific approach that comes with its own communication systems. Start with the product team and fold in key stakeholders and their teams - sales teams, marketing, and more- from there. 

Proactive Information Sharing

Precious time is saved when key information is pushed out to team members regularly rather than requiring them to come looking for something when needed, only to be unable to find the latest version. 

Enact tools and systems across your organization that include a single source of truth where everyone knows they can go to get whatever information it is that they need around upcoming and existing products and features. This resource is vital during fast-paced product launch windows when teams need access to the latest updates and decisions and don’t have time for constant interruptions to their workdays to discover them. 

Proactive information sharing keeps everyone on the same page and leads to a successful product launch.

Workflow Automation in Product Management

Workflow automation is necessary to streamline and speed up product development lifecycles. This enables teams to accelerate their time-to-market and stay ahead of the competition in the increasingly competitive SaaS industry. 

Introduction to Workflow Automation

Workflow automation looks slightly different for every team. For product teams, it starts with finding ways to automate tedious, manual tasks – especially in DevOps – and then finding other opportunities to streamline workflows across the team before moving outside of it. 

Inside of the product team, this can look like: 

  • Automating ways to collect and evaluate ideas, including around market research, both from inside the product team and from customers. Some tools can prioritize these ideas for the product team to review based on criteria they define, customer feedback, or historical data. 
  • Automating customer feedback, both in collecting and analyzing it, so the team doesn’t spend their time manually sending out surveys to customers and processing the data themselves to surface important insights. 
  • Automating task and project management so that team members get notified when deadlines are approaching and know which tasks they’re responsible for or whom they need to reach out to about something. 
  • Automating performance monitoring to get real-time data about how customers use products.
  • Automating user onboarding and support with options like chatbots that can help answer the most frequently asked questions with the latest product-approved messaging, so the customer support team doesn’t have to constantly reach out for help. 

These are just a few of the areas product teams can consider automation for their workflows. Even if something like market research needs a final review by a human, the collection and storage of that data can be automated. Eliminating as many tedious, manual tasks as possible gives product team members time to do meaningful, strategic work – the kind of work that keeps your organization innovating ahead of the competition. 

That’s also the work that keeps employees satisfied with their jobs, reducing employee turnover and improving creativity and collaboration. That can save your organization even more in the long run since you don’t have to source, train, and retain talent as often. 

Automated Product Launch Processes

A Saas product launch becomes as smooth and successful as possible when teams thoughtfully implement automation. That involves auditing your current launch process, including your product development process, to identify any bottlenecks and areas where automation could make a difference. 

The goal is to reduce as many manual and repetitive tasks as possible – outsourcing those to the robots – so human creativity can be applied to the rest of the process. Communication is often an area where teams have significant bottlenecks that must be addressed. Consider tools that help automate this process so teams are proactive about updates rather than reactive. 

Timelines, Ownership, and Accountability

The right tools help a team not only automate tedious tasks but also lay out clear timelines and identify who owns which tasks and will take accountability for the flow of certain processes. 

Accountability is enhanced with tools that offer automated notifications and tracking on progress updates, pinging the right team members when deadlines are approaching, as well as flagging any issues ahead of the deadline. This keeps the team focused on the work they need to do instead of the mechanics of organizing it, making it much more likely that deadlines will be made instead of continually pushed back. 

Meeting deadlines is key to customer satisfaction. Customers lose trust in companies when deadlines are continually missed or pushed back and feature updates never materialize. Constant disappointment leads to higher churn rates externally and dissatisfaction and low morale internally.

Keeping Teams Aligned on Product Strategy

The most crucial role of any product team is to keep the entire organization aligned on product strategy, including product launches. Each person in the organization needs to be clear on how their work contributes to that strategy and ultimately helps the organization succeed in accomplishing its goals. 

Product Strategy Challenges

Keeping teams across the organization aligned on product strategy comes with its own set of challenges, including but not limited to: 

  • Communication: if communication is unclear, irregular, or shared in the wrong channels, teams can't stay aligned on strategy. 
  • Interpretation: even with clear communication, team members might interpret product strategy differently depending on their role in the organization, their personal experience, or other perspective. 
  • Priorities: organizational priorities can shift along with sudden market changes, driving a necessary response from product strategy. The entire organization must be aligned in the first place so everyone can pivot smoothly when necessary. 
  • Ownership: if team members outside of the product team don’t feel ownership over how their roles contribute to the overall success of the product strategy, they’re less likely to buy in on it. 
  • Goals: product strategy should align with larger organizational goals, and what success looks like should be clearly defined for every team and every role within each team. 

Misalignment results in huge impacts on product development and, eventually, on sales. Misaligned teams miss their target dates for delivery of updated features and products, bugs don’t get reported or fixed promptly, and customer satisfaction drops. That leads to rising costs, missed opportunities, and a negative impact on brand reputation. Misaligned teams become frustrated, morale lowers, and team members disengage from their jobs. 

This results in slower time-to-market, giving competitors an advantage while your organization struggles to stay competitive. To avoid this, product teams need to design proactive ways to keep their organizations aligned on strategy. That includes clear, regular communication, cross-functional collaboration, and fostering a culture that emphasizes shared goals. 

A smooth and successful SaaS product launch is one sign that your product strategy is aligned across your organization.

Automating Strategy Communication

Product teams need to proactively communicate around product strategy, especially as it relates to SaaS product launches. Automated systems can push out any updates, remind cross-functional collaborators where they can find key pieces of information, and otherwise streamline communication around product strategy across an organization. 

That means fewer interruptions for product team members and less frustration for collaborators who know exactly where to go to find what they need. For example, some teams have a system of automatic product updates that go out in Slack at specific times every week, so everyone knows what the latest product updates are. If someone misses a specific update because they’re out of the office, they can return to find it on their schedule. 

Tracking Progress and Adjustments

The right tools can help teams track organization-wide progress toward strategic goals without manually doing it. Some tools will push out automatic updates so everyone knows where they stand as certain deadlines approach and whether or not anyone has strayed from the priorities that were initially set. 

Suppose priorities do shift due to changes in the market or other organizational transitions. In that case, teams need to be flexible enough to adjust in real-time based on the data they’ve collected internally and externally. Market research may have shown one target audience should be the focus of a product launch, for example, but further data shows that a secondary audience should be the main focus instead.

If teams are aligned and well-educated on strategy and goals, they should have no problem adapting to evolving product strategies. The right tools can adjust right alongside the teams they serve, too.

Measuring the Impact on Product Success

If you’re not measuring, you can’t know what is and isn’t working for your organization. Start with baseline measurements to see how teams improve once automation and other strategies are implemented.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The KPIs your product team identifies for your particular SaaS product will depend on your organization’s focus and goals. Some common choices include: 

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): or the cost of bringing on a new customer. 
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): or how much total revenue a customer is expected to generate over their entire time with your organization.  
  • Customer churn rate: the same as the turnover rate with customers, or how many stop using your product and don’t renew their subscription. 
  • Feature adoption rate: measures how quickly users adopt a new feature or how many of them use it over time; this helps product teams make smart decisions about future features. 
  • User engagement metrics: product teams track things like daily active users (DAU), monthly active users (MAU), and how “sticky” certain products or features are to gauge how customers are interacting with their products.

There are many other KPIs used by SaaS teams, including monthly recurring revenue (MRR) or annual recurring revenue (ARR). Your team should pick the KPIs that make the most sense based on your product strategy and goals. 

You’ll also want to find tools that can help track and measure the KPIs you decide to focus on, automating as much of that process as possible. A tool that regularly reminds users of their progress gives teams more time to adjust their strategy as needed, helping them stay flexible and competitive.

Scaling Resource Optimization Efforts

Start all of these resource optimization and automation efforts inside of the product team, then take them outside to key collaborators as a next step. Only once you’ve seen improved productivity in these places should you scale across the organization, one team at a time. 

While you want organization-wide buy-in for effective change, too much change all at once can be overwhelming and can make teams less productive as they struggle to adapt to new tools and systems of working. Take it one team at a time, figuring out what can be automated and what can be adapted from what’s already working well within a specific team. 

This approach ensures sustainability and long-term success, as teams are aligned on strategy and streamlined in their workflows. That makes adjusting to changing business needs easier, no matter the resources at hand. 

Cementing Team Alignment on SaaS Product Launches 

As product teams are continually asked to do more with less, optimizing available resources and automating workflows wherever possible to help streamline them becomes more important than ever. 

This helps make SaaS product launches smoother and more successful, reducing time-to-market and keeping teams ahead of the competition. 

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