The widespread adoption of the cloud model has brought with it a dramatic rise in new SaaS architecture.
But along with this SaaS revolution comes a persistent question: How do I strike a balance between spending every spare minute updating my SaaS product and risking it falling out of favor in an incredibly competitive and fast-paced environment?
Here’s what my time spent building Contentstack’s SaaS platform from scratch taught me about determining the “use-by” date — or the date when a product has hit peak performance in its current state and is ready to be refreshed — of any modern SaaS product.
3 Tactics for Determining When It’s Time to Refresh Your SaaS Product
In my experience, there are three standout tactics that will help you determine when your SaaS product has reached its use-by date so you can refresh your approach before your product is lost to time.
Let Customer Feedback + Market Shifts Be Your Guide
Even the biggest and best SaaS products start with little more than an idea. In the beginning, assumptions based on market research are your biggest guiding factors in building out a SaaS product.
In these early days, you can move very quickly to get things up and running without fear of disrupting your small pool of users. But as you start gaining traction and scaling your customer base, they’ll bring with them another factor by which you can guide the growth of your SaaS product — feedback.
I’ve found that customer feedback is a hugely important element to consider when building out or tweaking the roadmap for the future of your product. Not only does customer feedback provide insight into individual preferences, but it also shows you how the overall market is shifting and where your original assumptions can be updated to keep your product relevant and competitive.
While following customer feedback and market movements can certainly keep you on your toes, it’s a brilliant way to stay on the bleeding edge of innovation and to build a valuable, loyal customer base that is willing to adapt to software upgrades, deprecate old code and familiarities, and make other changes to evolve alongside your business and your products.
Regularly Revisit Infrastructure with Innovation in Mind
The fact that you’re prioritizing finding the use-by date of your SaaS product so that you can stay modern and current tells me that you’re an innovator. And as such, it’s important that every once in a while you apply the vision and unique perspective you’ve developed as an innovator to your infrastructure to find areas that can be improved and refreshed.
If you need to find a way to add structure to this process, I’d advise putting policies in place that require you and your team to consistently revisit your microservices stack. These visits should help you identify opportunities where you can rewrite and update any components that are falling behind.
Having this process in place will also help regulate and resolve any tech debt that you may have accrued through various short-term fixes in the early days of your product.
Watch UI Trends to Keep Your Experience Relevant
By now, many digital product providers have realized that, for the majority of consumers, the experience of working with a company is just as important as the products a company provides.
In order to give consumers the experience they crave, it’s imperative that you keep an eye on current trends in usability to see how you can adapt — and maybe even revamp — your UI to remain relevant.
Here, we also want to highlight another type of user who isn’t often mentioned even though their experience with your SaaS product is vital to its success: The engineer.
Before SaaS became practically table stakes for modern businesses, the standard was monolithic, legacy tech that pretty much didn’t change. This tech made it too expensive and time-consuming to upgrade to cool new products as they hit the market. Instead, engineers were stuck with the dreary, monotonous process of bolting on and maintaining plugins to keep their monolith somewhat up to date.
Not so today. Microservices-based, API-connected, cloud-native, and headless-first SaaS architecture (we call that “MACH”) is a modern trend that has flipped everything on its head. With a modern SaaS product, you can instantly deliver the latest and greatest in tech so your engineering team can experience working on the fastest, most high-performing, and all-around coolest technologies.
What does that mean for your business? That you’ll be well-positioned to bring the best version of your SaaS product to market, every time.
Will You Keep Your SaaS Product From Going Bad?
Often, a “bad” SaaS product is simply one that hasn’t been maintained in a way that keeps it useful to customers and other user types. Luckily, there’s a simple yet effective process for safeguarding your SaaS product against “going bad.” When you apply the above tactics to determine the use-by date on which the current version of your software has reached its peak, you will be empowered to make proactive upgrades before performance lapses render your software outdated and unusable.