Back in the old days, the phone was the primary way to get a report about customer problems. Getting a customer on a call was an indication of a big problem, but also it was the fastest way to get more details and first-hand information about the problem.
Things are changing with SaaS and web. It turns upside down how problems can be reported, bug fixes, and how to manage a customer’s happiness level. Modern software creates a different level of expectation.
As PLM companies are running towards SaaS, customer issues and customer experience can be an indication of how close each vendor product and technology to deliver what is demanded in a modern business environment.
You can hear SaaS from every PLM vendor these days. is committed to SaaS in one or another way. At the same time, SaaS brings another level of controversy to PLM cloud wars. What is actually SaaS and why SaaS matters. You can hear from some PLM companies that SaaS and multi-tenancy are purely technical topics. The same vendors will tell you that SaaS multi-tenancy is something that is only important for vendors and users don’t care about internals… as soon as features will be delivered. The technology is just the way to deliver the business model. On the contrary, SaaS vendors bring to the table things that are beyond IT saving.
PLM is a complex software, which includes sophisticated data management techniques, complex data, and user experience. And PLM software (as any other type of software) is not free from bugs, or how I prefer to call them – issues. Today, I want to talk about SaaS and issue reporting to explain what true SaaS PLM can do that hosted and on-premise PLM cannot.
Let me start with obvious requirements and demands from both sides – users and developers. Users’ demand issues being fixed as quickly as possible and to simplify the reporting process. On the other side, vendors are looking at how to reproduce and fix the problem faster by getting the best information about what users do.
How SaaS PLM can help you to build a better experience for customers. Here are 5 things to think about.
1- Problem reproduction
An isolated customer environment is a black box. One of the most critical things every software developer needs to do when dealing with customer issues is to reproduce the problem. A traditional on-premise system provides very limited capabilities to monitor user behavior and reproduce the problem. Hosting such a system using IaaS platforms will not make much difference. Online SaaS environment with embedded monitoring tools can make problem reproduction faster and to shorten the process of fixing problems.
2- Problem scope and frequency of problem occurrences
In a traditional on-premise or hosted applications, the problem appearance is local for each environment. It creates several challenges. Although online problem reporting is possible and used by many companies for years, tracking problems on the global scope can give a much better perspective and assessment of problems. A single global environment allows us to identify problems, watch for new problems, and prevent problems from appearing earlier.
3- Devil is in details
The problem reporting capabilities of SaaS systems allow to take problem details to the next level. Old fashion logs are a thing in the past. SaaS systems and infrastructure allows us to capture details about what is happening on a much greater level and to have access to this information in real-time. It allows to accelerate problem maintenance and reduce the load on users related to problem details and reporting.
4- Screenshots and ways to reproduce
An online connected environment provides embedded capabilities to receive the pictures and videos of problem reproduction in real-time. A picture worth thousands of words. An ability to have visual information about what is happening can be super helpful and contribute to better problem resolutions.
To have full information about the customer environment is another contributing factor that accelerates the problem resolution. There is no guessing anymore about what environment the user has and this information is available in real-time. The result is to shorten the time to solve a problem.
All these aspects above provide an interesting perspective on how SaaS can contribute to better user experience for customers. The development team can be ahead in the game of problem prevention. The time to resolution can be faster and the delivery of fixes can be done online and immediately.
What is my conclusion?
A one way to think about SaaS and cloud is to think about who owns the servers and runs IT. It is an obvious thing, but it is a very limited perspective. The future of modern software is about experience and SaaS provides some unique capabilities to deliver a platform that leverages connection to customers, cross tenant information experience, online support, capturing operational information, speed, and quality. You cannot get these capabilities from a single PLM Server even if you host it on AWS, Azure, or GCP. So, the future of SaaS PLM is first about new user experience rather than saving on IT departments.
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups, and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.