In today’s globalized environment, there is hardly any customer who would want to restrict the search for an IT solution provider to a specific geography especially in their own country of operations. There is of course a comfort factor when you know that you can physically meet the vendor you are dealing with, but that factor gets neutralized by the numerous advantages you may get when you expand your search globally.
Firstly, you have more options to select from. This eventually gives you more bargaining power in terms of requirement, timeline and pricing. Secondly, you are not compelled to compromise on your end objective as you can now explore solutions which are actually better than what you can find in your own country in terms of scalability, reliability and stability. Finally, with more and more product start-ups coming up with SFA solution (especially from IT powerhouse such as India), you can actually get a much more cost-effective solution reducing the pinch in your purse.
Having said that, there are off-course challenges and risks associated in implementing a B2B SaaS solution such as Sales Force Automation when the vendor is not collocated. Some of these are highlighted below:
- Even before a client finalizes a solution, she must have complete understanding of the product features and its offerings. SFA solutions are typically complicated enough to be explained thoroughly in a product brochure. So, it needs a number of meetings before a client is convinced that a specific solution will meet all her requirements.
- An SFA solution is never a self-service software where a client can do the implementation herself just like any other task management or ticketing solution. It needs some serious implementation effort which eventually calls for lots of coordination between the client and the implementation team.
- Master data management is key to success of any implementation including SFA. When you are dealing with the implementation team remotely there is chance of mistake or misunderstanding if the risk is not mitigated by the solution provider.
- Explaining customization and integration requirements needs lots of coordination not just between client and vendor, but also with the third parties.
- There is always a concern on the support to be provided by the vendor post implementation.
So, for an SFA solution provider which is managing or aspiring to manage international implementation, it is imperative to mitigate all the risks / challenges / concerns which will play in customer’s mind. Based on our experience of managing numerous implementations across the globe over the years, here is a summary of approaches that one must follow in order to manager a successful international implementation. Also as a customer, you should check whether the vendor you are opting for is following these approaches or not.
Product Features: The product must be robust enough to cater to any geography of the world. Some of the must have features can be listed as:
- Configuration options to customize the solution as per the local sales process specific to a country
- Support any language including non-roman scripts such as Arabic or Mandarin
- Ability to send text alerts to any country depending on configurable country codes
- Adheres to country specific compliances such as no GPS tagging in some countries
Onboarding a New Client: The solution provider must have some sort of local presence either through a renowned partner or a reseller. That increases client confidence manifold before she decides on the solution to implement. Some of the obvious reasons are mentioned below:
- If the partner / reseller is renowned in that geography, client can rely on the fact that they have already done a lot of due diligence before deciding to promote a specific solution
- Client will have access to local SPOC who can explain the solution feature in more details and answer all the queries they might have
- Client can sign-up agreement with the local partner in their preferred language, court of jurisdiction which will further boost up confidence
Implementation Approach: The SFA vendor must follow the below mentioned approaches to ensure a successful implementation remotely:
- A dedicated international implementation team which is fluent in English (and preferably expertise in some other languages as well) and supports client specific time zone
- Team consists of consultants who prior experience of global implementation and thorough knowledge of sales operations
- Extensive use of web conferencing and video conferencing technologies to make better coordination
- Local partners / resellers are also trained on regular basis so that they can help during implementation phase
Post-implementation Support: That’s a major concern for any client and vendor must follow below mentioned approaches to ensure a successful system usage ongoing basis:
- Customer support catering to any time-zone of the world
- Chat Support from the app for end users to quickly connect with support team
- Large amount of web based content in terms of training materials, FAQs, topic based ready reckoner for end users to find their queries online