All SaaS companies rely daily on numerous platforms and apps to run successfully and gain competitive advantage in the digital environment. The platform that stores your customers’ data and purchase history is probably, and most likely, not the same as your billing and finance management tool. However, the information and preferences contained in the latter can be quite important when targeting the exact same customers from the first platform.
Therefore, it is crucial to ensure smooth and efficient data flow between the different tech systems if you want to optimize your processes, and respectively, your revenue. This seamless symbiosis between the various tech tools is the so-called technology ecosystem.
Why do we need a tech ecosystem rather than just separate, optimized tech solutions? The short answer is, because of RevOps. As a growing SaaS company, your goal is to increase your revenue and keep it at a sustainable accumulation pace. This implies shifting your focus towards synchronization of all revenue-generating operations, such as marketing, sales, customer success, and even finance, known as Revenue Operations, or RevOps.
Now, this is where the tech ecosystem comes in. You need your tech tools to mediate this synchronization by interlinking and integrating them into an ecosystem where data can be transferred fluently.
We know it all sounds a bit blurry and complicated but let’s take a look at what defines a technology ecosystem first, and then we will go further in explaining how to ensure you ‘get one of these’ in a few steps.
Table of contents:
- Defining an Ecosystem of Technology Solutions
- Step 1: Revise, Remove, Replace Existing Tools
- Step 2: Add New Tools and Get Ready to Grow
- Stop 3: Integrate the Optimized Tools
- Finding the optimal solutions and achieving balance
Defining an Ecosystem of Technology Solutions
An ecosystem of tech solutions goes a level above your stack of apps and platforms you use daily. An ecosystem means that all the elements in it are in connection, they are synchronized.
Think of your SaaS company’s tech stack as a living, breathing organism. The individual tools are the separate organs in your body – the heart, the lever, the lungs etc. However, no matter how well-functioning each of them is separately, you cannot live without them ‘talking to each other’ through your blood and nerve systems.
So, a SaaS technology ecosystem is the whole set of tech solutions used in running your business, which are interlinked and interdependent in order to reach optimal results.
How to ensure your tech tools are in sync? Let’s see.
Step 1: Revise, Remove, Replace Existing Tools
You already have a solid amount of tech tools running in your SaaS company even at this exact moment. Still, you may observe occasional (or systematic) frictions in your processes. There may, for example, be delays in responding to customers’ enquires related to mistaken billing addresses.
This is because the finance department platform is not quite in sync with the one used by your customer success team and the communication of data is slowed down by information silos.
Your first step to achieving a synchronized tech ecosystem is to look into the existing tools and identify those, which are not used properly (or used at all, for that matter). If you want to optimize the processes in your company, select the solutions that suit your needs the most.
Look into your total tech stack and revise it. And we are talking full-blown annual revision. Remove the solutions that don’t work for your SaaS business, replace or upgrade where you need extra optimization, and you will be one step ahead to creating a well-functioning tech ecosystem.
Step 2: Add New Tools and Get Ready to Grow
Now, it’s time to look the other way round – go through the running processes and pinpoint those that can be enhanced or refined by introducing a new tech solution. Identify the processes and add new tools which suit the needs and correspond to the characteristics of you SaaS business.
Don’t choose the basic version of a software platform if your team is about to grow in a couple of months, and you will need extra storage space or more features, for example. Get ready to grow your business in advance when we talk technology. Make sure that the solutions you pick are ready to grow with you and scale easily. Otherwise, you risk of going back to Step 1 where you need to replace a fairly new tool and deal with data transferring, migration of processes and team trainings all over again.
Also, since we are talking about syncing the revenue-generating operations, it is crucial that your CRM, sales, and marketing apps are aligned and information is passed smoothly between them. If that’s not the case, introduce new tools that can be integrated into this ‘cooperative ’tech ecosystem. Some good examples of such apps are ChurnZero (a customer success platform), Chargebee (a subscription management and billing tool), and Common Room (a CRM and community growth tool).
Yet another important note here – ensure that the new tech tools are compatible with the ones you already use. Try researching the integration options they both have built-in or not. Or would you need a third-party software to connect and sync them. We’ll take a deeper look at this in the next few lines.
Step 3: Integrate the Optimized Tools
Now this, is probably the most important step in building an ecosystem of technology solutions that functions fluently and turns into an intrinsic cog in your revenue engine. Namely, pumping blood into your organism, making it work as a whole.
Yes, it comes down to connecting all your existing and optimized tech stack tools into a comprehensive system without data frictions and loopholes.
There are three main ways of integrating your various solutions. One of them is the in-app, or native integration. These are software platforms that usually come with a pre-built, interlinked apps that can serve the different processes and users. A good example of such in-app (native) integration is the HubSpot Ops Hub software where you can get your CRM tools connected directly with marketing operations and customer base. In-app integrations are used quite often by SaaS companies which means that the major work processes are covered by such software tools.
Another way of integration is through an external, cloud-based platform know as iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service). These third-party solutions serve as assistants or ‘translators’ that help your tools ‘talk’ to each other. They are the universal language that allows effortless and fluid data exchange from one app to another. An advantage of such integration tools is that they are designed to be customized in order to fit the specific business needs. So, you can fine-tune them and adjust their functions to ideally match the requirements set by your own apps.
Lastly, you have the option of performing a custom integration. You can custom-build and design software tools in-house. You will have your tech stack synchronized through made-to-measure solutions that fit perfectly to your SaaS-company demands. Keep in mind, though, that just as a tailored tuxedo, these custom integrations are more costly and time-consuming to prepare. Apart from the necessary initial resources (both financial and in relation to professionals), they also crave maintenance which leads you to supporting an experienced team of in-house developers.
Finding the optimal solutions and achieving balance
Regardless of which integration system you choose to apply, you should always keep in mind the grand perspective of why you have embarked on this effort. Namely, achieving sustainable revenue growth by creating a synchronized ecosystem of technologies. Fulfilling the steps above is certainly something that will take time, resources, and training. Especially if you have just recently discovered the holistic approach of RevOps which calls for adapting a technology ecosystem binding the tech tools within several operations.
Making the right decisions and finding the optimal solutions for your SaaS business can be quite tricky for companies that don’t have the necessary knowledge and prerequisites to perform some of the changes.
The good news is that you don’t need to deal with this process alone. At RevBrains, we are committed to navigating your SaaS company towards achieving this balanced, well-oiled revenue engine. We will help you every step of the way, along with ensuring a synchronized ecosystem of technology solutions.