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Phlogiston and Other Obsolete Theories – Is Your Approach to SaaS Solutions Outdated?

SaaS-Blog-ImagePhlogiston Theory is an obsolete theory that tried to explain why some substances are combustible, like lamp oil, and others aren’t, like tombstones. In short, the theory stated that within certain substances there was a substance called Phlogiston, which was kept in a sealed chamber within its host substance. When the Phlogiston was released – it would cause cool things to happen – fires, explosions, and so forth. It was a conveniently believable theory.

The theory remained popular for over 100 years. However, it became unpopular once scientists discovered that some materials, like magnesium, actually gained mass when burned (it combines with oxygen to form magnesium oxide). The theory was debunked.

What does this obsolete theory have to do with you?

Simply stated – the conventional knowledge and theory of today will change. And you will look back and wonder why you ever thought the way you did.

Training in the SaaS Industry

The SaaS industry, according to Gartner, will be a $21.3B industry by 2015. There are cloud-based solutions for all kinds of business needs. ERP? You got it. Timekeeping? Sure. LMS? We’ve got heaps of those.

Traditionally, SaaS solutions are designed by silos of software engineers and tossed over the wall to teams of implementation managers, consultants, and trainers who scramble around trying to help clients understand their solution’s complex capabilities. This is typically done via webinars, eLearning, videos, and in some cases one-on-one consulting. After implementation clients receive product support from client support and additional training from webinars, which are typically free, and users’ conferences, which aren’t. Does it work? Well kind of. Just like the theory of phlogiston, it’s incomplete.

Become Your Clients’ Competitive Advantage

To better support clients through and after the implementation process SaaS companies need to design their solutions with learning in mind so that their clients can achieve the operational efficiencies they desire without as much dependence on costly consultants, trainers, and client support organizations. Trainers, consultants, eLearning, videos, etc. are still are part of this solution, but they will become integrated into a much more complete instructional system.

If clients can learn how to use their SaaS solution faster and this leads to better end user solution adoption – they will likely realize the operational efficiencies they desired when they first started looking for a SaaS solution.

What would a more complete instructional system look like? Based on my own experiences in SaaS training delivery – here are a few thoughts:

  1. Easier to use SaaS solutions– Sometimes in an effort to satisfy all contingencies, SaaS solutions become over-engineered. The simplest task can be completed 3-5 different ways and once elegant solutions prickle with ancillary functionality. Remember Apple’s bold claim regarding the iPad? “You already know how to use it.”
  2. Integrated learning solutions– Eliminate all barriers to learning. Access to learning portals, walk-throughs, job aides, etc. should be directly accessible from the SaaS solution. This could include integration with mobile applications of SaaS solutions as well.
  3. Integrated performance support– When it comes to system training, most learning is done at the moment of application. Performance support provides learners with just enough information to get through the moment of application task or process successfully. This can be done through on-screen call outs, on screen walk-throughs, very short videos or motion graphics, etc.

To all the SaaS learning and performance professionals in the house – what are you doing to partner with your product development teams?

To all the product development and product marketing teams – do you see the value of designing your solutions with learning in mind?

Share your comments and observations below or reach out to one of our learning directors to talk about how to enhance your SaaS solution.

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