May 21, 2020 Innovation Team

The Customer’s Role in Improving Your SaaS Product

One of the most crucial and hard to understand parts of the product development process is developing for the end user. The end user plays an important role in the successful implementation of your product, and determines everything from initial adoption to product longevity in the marketplace. Having an understanding of the role the end user plays is important at the onset, and should drive your product development process. One of the most highly acclaimed development methodologies is lean, whose core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. In this article, we provide a few examples of how lean development ultimately supports the customer in improving your SaaS product.

Removal Of Defects

When it comes to lean, the removal of defects is one of the most important aspects of the process. As most of us are aware, a piece of software can interact with, be broken by, or create problems for any number of programs and systems that a quality assurance team simply can’t test for. This is where users come in. With feedback from end users who work with your product on a regular basis to accomplish real-world tasks, you can strive to make your product defect free. Their error reporting, which can be automated for simplicity, is considered one of the best ways to improve the quality of a product.

Identifying Waste

One of the pillars of lean philosophy is the elimination of “Muda,” a Japanese word meaning “futility; uselessness; wastefulness.” The principle is simple. Anything that doesn’t add value should be removed. Anyone with a basic understanding of lean should know what this is by now, and understands there are many different kinds of Muda in software development.

What you may not know is that there are actually two categories of Muda. One is the kind you’re probably familiar with. Useless, unnecessary, and wasteful resources or items that are just getting in the way of your product. The other kind is also non-value adding, but necessary for end-customers. The second type is harder to define and notice in the software development industry, but still important. An example would be having to send software or collected data into separate repositories, effectively backing them up. This does create waste, in the form of transporting and taking time to do the backup, but it also is necessary for end-customers who might delete critical data or other useful information.

One way to implement lean in identifying waste is to run experiments on your software, and systematically remove frivolous or non-value adding features. When customers experience products that are a joy to use they typically stay motivated in their support levels.

Amplifying Learning

Your end-users are the single biggest source of data that you can use to improve not only your product, but your team as a whole. The principle of continuous improvement is the single most important key of the lean process. You need to improve not only your product, but your team, and your company. Your continuous improvement and development methodology will be what defines your product and industry for years to come. The user is the final judge of the quality, and ultimately where you will identify the weak points of your software.

As you can see, customers are the ultimate source of data you can use to refine your SaaS product in line with lean principles and methodology. If you want your enterprise to succeed, you can’t neglect users as part of your product development process. 

Having a hard time keeping happy customers? Not getting the feedback you know you need? No need to worry! We specialize in improving the user experience and offer a customer insights platform to design, run and test experiments with potential and existing customers. Reach out today to learn how we can help!