When building a B2B SaaS product there are a number of software capabilities that should be included in the roadmap, even if they are to be implemented at a future date. Giving them careful consideration from the start, will make your project healthier and support future growth and scalability. At the end of this post I provide a link to a download of a document with a more detailed checklist to include in your RFP and a list of sources to learn more.
In today’s Agile / Lean mindset, the MVP (minimum viable product) or MMP (minimal marketable product) is a critical milestone. Organizations will look to release core functionality as quickly as possible. It is critical that you identify the absolute minimum viable feature set and functionality that can be launched at the earliest possible date. Budget or time, may constrain your attention to additional features that are important to securing user engagement and retention, but they can be rolled out in subsequent iterations and be improved by the user feedback obtained from the MVP release.
1. Identity Access Management ( IAM )
To manage users, your solution needs robust and agile authentication and authorization. Features like Single Sign On, Google or Linkedin Identity Providers (social media sign in), 2FA (two-factor authentication), MFA (Multi-factor Authentication), and configurable password policies. Discuss how the product will manage permissions across features and resources. RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) and ABAC (Attribute-Based Access Control) should be considered. Whichever you choose, they need to provide flexibility needed, anticipating your current and future features.
2. API Ready
It is highly possible that your users will benefit from connecting your application with others in their technology stack. Software architecture should ensure that future integrations for features like payments, notifications, support, dashboards, marketing tools, etc., are low effort and if needed configurable by your users.
Many features can be delivered by 3rd party integrations at a much lower cost than building from the ground up. Identify applications your users use and plan to build integrations or connections with them.
3. Configuration Management
Customers will request features they need for their organization. You may be tempted to quickly react and create a version of your product especially for them. Be careful before taking this road. This can be the beginning of multiple code bases and therefore multiplying development costs. It is optimal to take customer requests, put them in the roadmap and develop them directly into the product by making these new features configurable. In this way customers who need these features will have access to them. This can be managed thru your different plans or direct configuration by an authorized admin. With this method your project will have one unified, configurable codebase to maintain.
4. Status Information
Whatever your maintenance plan or schedule, users must be kept in the loop. Planned and emergency downtimes need to be properly communicated via notification and when reaching your application, on web or native apps. There are plenty of 3rd party tools that can be integrated into your product and reduce ( not eliminate ) development time building your own features. Making sure your users are well informed will also reduce traffic to your helpdesk or call center.
5. Revenue Generation
In today’s FREEMIUM world, making money may be further down the line in the business plan and roadmap after establishing traction with a base of users. Even so, architecture needs to foresee future revenue generation capabilities. Required anticipated functionality might include monthly subscriptions, metered usage, one time charges, etc. Your architecture should be flexible enough to allow you to change pricing structure on the fly.
6. Compliance Readiness
The widely accepted and used SOC-2 compliance certification covers these areas : Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy. If you will have users from Europe, then you need to pay close attention to GDPR ( General Data Protection Regulation ) In the US there is not a Federal Law governing data privacy. A few states have enacted their own like the California Consume Privacy Act. Check https://www.privacyshield.gov/welcome You should spend a little time understanding the scope of these areas and what you need to do to be in compliance everywhere you do business.
In today’s SaaS world, users expect to be able to try before they buy. More and more companies attract users with a free trial so users can discover their value.
You need to generate sustainable acquisition rates. Help first-time users to know their way around your product with contextual hints & tips. Guide them towards using your product successfully. Producing engaged users and eventually customers requires a well planned onboarding flow which is the most critical part of the user journey.
8. Going global
Once your product is popular in the domestic market, you may start thinking about going international. Globalisation, internationalisation, localisation and translation are 4 basic concepts to look at. Again, it’s not about building all these for MVP, but only consider that their incorporation into your product is as painless and low cost as possible.
9. Code Quality
Unit tests, code reviews, best practices, change impact, automated testing. I grouped all of these into one, but each one of them has importance of it’s own and I will discuss them in future articles. All of this requires the team’s dedication and it is important to define before development begins. They have an impact on delivery times, but will reduce defects and increase final delivery velocity.
10. Product Analytics
You need to monitor your subscription metrics. Analyze user engagement across all touch-points as well as their behavior throughout their journey to reduce churn, increase customer engagement, and ultimately grow recurring revenue. Learn early where and how you are losing customers during the on-boarding process.
In laying out your product roadmap or RFP, these areas that should be addressed and including in your planning and solution architecture. Failing to do so, may cause delays in your future releases and create roadblocks for enterprise adoption. That will translate into additional costs. Putting all of this in as part of your initial project plan will minimize your risks of costs overruns and delays.
Download the checklist by following this link https://tinyurl.com/3n8t2sjj