Deeptech/Software & SaaS/Interview/

6 lessons on using SaaS to scale your business

SaaS experts reveal how to find the right solutions and ditch the unnecessary ones to start or scale your organisation.

By Tom Ritchie

The number of SaaS solutions available on the market today is dizzying. With so many applications out there claiming to be the silver bullet for startups, how do you cut through the noise and find the right solutions to either start or scale your organisation? 

We put this question to a panel of SaaS experts on the latest Sifted Talk, including: Henrique Moniz de Aragão, general manager for EMEA at G2, a review for business software solutions; Julia Morrongiello, an associate at B2B SaaS venture capital firm Point Nine Capital; and Dave Rosenberg, head of marketing for EMEA at Oracle Netsuite. 

1. Less is more when you’re starting out

Early-stage businesses don’t need to spend lots on software in their infancy. Basic tools such as email, accounting software, an internal messaging services CRM and some marketing support are enough to get a fledgling business off the ground.

The panel agreed that founders should learn more about their business’ offering and the day-to-day needs of their people before purchasing expensive software, or risk spending on an unnecessary tool that never gets properly implemented in the business.  

“One mistake that I see is people getting really excited about new SaaS tools left, right and centre, and they end up dormant. Nobody’s using them or people aren’t using them consistently across the organisation… There is value in evaluating what tools are useful and implementing across the organisation,” says Julia Morrongiello, associate at Point Nine Capital.

2. Fill the holes in your organisation

Beyond those basic necessities, Roseberg suggests businesses target software that can help them address their most obvious needs. If the business is lacking in a certain area, prioritise your SaaS spend in filling those gaps. 

“It depends on your business… It depends how much depth you have in those areas… Go find the thing that solves the problem — at the best cost at that moment in time,” says Dave Roseberg, head of marketing for EMEA at Oracle Netsuite. 

3. Resist the urge to customise

Rosberg also points out that businesses often fall into the trap of customising their software unnecessarily, incurring further costs in developer time and implementation.

Any adjustments must be made with a stringent cost-benefit analysis, and solve a pain point for customers or employees. He points out that founders can often fall foul of these unnecessary projects early in a business’s life cycle, as they distract from the difficulties of the day-to-day running of the organisation.

“Customising software, if it’s not relevant to your business, is almost always a bad idea… It’s very hard when you’re in the midst of starting a company. It’s terribly difficult, everything hurts, nothing goes right and you think ‘here’s something I can do that’s more fun and it can distract me from how difficult running a business is’,” says Dave Roseberg, head of marketing for EMEA at Oracle Netsuite. 

4. HR solutions are needed to replace human aspect of work

Unsurprisingly, the move to working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic has increased spend on SaaS solutions, as businesses have needed to digitise all aspects of their operations. With less contact between employees now the norm, many businesses are spending on HR solutions to approximate the social aspects of work and the pastoral care found in a central office. 

“You don’t have that face-to-face contact, you don’t have an office anymore, you’re not spending money on team events, and as a result employees are feeling more disconnected than ever… As a result you’re seeing the rise of all these tools for employee engagement,” says Julia Morrongiello, associate at Point Nine Capital.

5. As you grow, find the right SaaS to fill your needs

The number of individual SaaS solutions used by a typical business is growing. Moniz de Aragão cited G2 research which found that the average SMB is running approximately 100 SaaS apps, while the number increased to 1.7k applications in enterprises.

Thanks to more sophisticated integration and interoperability of software, businesses can use increasingly specialised software solutions, drilling down into needs and niches as and when they become important to the business along their growth journey. 

“What has changed over the past few years is the interoperability of these applications has significantly increased… The trend is now to buy more stuff, not less as you grow, but a lot of that buying is driven by changes to your business… When companies then raise a significant round, anything from £10m to £30m in funding, or £5m to £10m in revenue, we then see that they start to specialise in their SaaS purchases,” says Henrique Moniz de Aragão, general manager for EMEA at G2. 

6. Cut the apps that aren’t working

Equally important as finding the correct solutions, is managing the overall spend of your software applications. With so many SaaS tools now being used in the average business, it’s easy for an organisation to lose sight of its spend.

Moniz de Aragao claims there’s $40bn of wasted SaaS spend globally every year, and suggests that CIOs need not be afraid of jettisoning applications when they lose importance to the business. 

“What do you do? Do you just shut it down and say ‘I’m going to live in an analogue world’? Or do you embrace it, and actively manage it? Business owners and CIOs of today have a different mindset… You’ve got to be ready to chuck it out,” says Henrique Moniz de Aragão, general manager for EMEA at G2.

You can watch our full Sifted Talk on how you can use SaaS to scale your business here: