A Simple Guide to Managing Requests in SaaS Implementations
The implementation phase is the most critical part of your customer’s journey. When you get it right, you set the foundation for the customer to achieve their desired results with your product.
That said, leading complex implementations has its challenges. You need to ensure that you’re working on the right items and being agile to new ideas as they come up.
So, what’s a request? It’s any item that requires us to follow up or implement a change in our product to meet our customer’s needs.
To help us manage requests, we created a simple request management framework to help us stay on top of everything. We wanted a framework that was easy for our customers and internal teams to adopt with clear benefits for everyone. We also wanted to spend as little time as possible on managing the request process itself so we could focus instead on delivering results.
The framework we use can be implemented in any task management app - preferably one with Kanban boards. We use the task management functions in our platform, SenseiOS®, however you could use other apps, such as Trello or Microsoft Planner in Teams if you want to try it out with your team. I recommend a task management app over a spreadsheet as it’s difficult to re-order items in a spreadsheet to visualize their priority. In a task management app, you can easily drag and reorder items so that items are always up-to-date for the whole team.
Three Step Guide to Getting Set Up
Step 1: Setup the requests management board
Using your task management app of choice, set up a Kanban board with the following buckets (screenshots below are from SenseiOS):
- New Requests
- In Backlog
- In Progress
- Needs Validation
- On Hold
Pre-fill the board with your standard implementation tasks to show that this is where all implementation activities will be managed including new items as they come up.
Step 2: Onboard your customer to this new way of collaborating
Either over email or during a video call, share this new process with your customer as a better way of managing requests. For new customers, build this directly into your onboarding with a simple presentation slide and a follow up linking them to the requests board.
The most important part to agree on with your customer is your responsibilities and the steps to be completed for a request to move to the next status. Here’s an example presentation slide:
The benefit to the customer will be visibility to all their requests, easier control over the priority of items, flexibility to reorder the backlog as priorities shift, and confidence that requests aren’t going to get lost. To ensure you and your customer are on the same page, communicating the value to them will be key! You can say “this new process will help us to ensure that we’re working on the right things and that you have better visibility into when you can expect a request to be ready”.
The benefit for your organization is that with clear priorities you’re able to focus on the most impactful items, you have the opportunity to ensure there is a shared understanding of items, and all the requests are in a single place.
Step 3: Stick to it and enjoy!
It’s easy to fall back to old habits so stick to the process by leading it on behalf of the entire team. As new items come up over email, Slack, or Zoom take the lead to add them to the board so it doesn’t get forgotten or lost.
I hope our approach inspires your Customer Success or Implementation teams to adopt a similar framework for managing requests with your customers. We’re always excited to improve our frameworks so please share any feedback!