If I wear a white coat and hang a stethoscope round my neck, does it make me a doctor?

The answer’s no, in case you weren’t sure.

Similarly, my mediocre, backyard DIY use of a tape measure, pencil and drop saw doesn’t make me a carpenter.

See how this works?

The tools we’re using don’t change what we are.

So it is with a SaaS platform.

Just because you make some software and publish it for public use, it doesn’t make you a tech business.

You might be technology driven, but you’re not selling it.

Most vendors simply use software they’ve made to deliver their service.

Why is this an important distinction?

Because it fundamentally affects how you perceive what you do, and that changes everything.

If changes how you talk about your offering.

How you perceive you customers’ needs.

How you pitch your product to the market.

How you manage your business.

And most of all it encourages you to focus on your technology.

Getting your platform up to snuff is of course important, but as I’m wont to say, if you’re looking at the technology, you’re missing the point.

Your SaaS enables some people to solve their problem.

That’s where its value lies, and it’s where your attention should be.

Anywhere else, and you’re just making life harder for yourself.


Technical debt is a simple idea.

It’s the price you pay tomorrow to fix up the mistakes of yesterday.

And you can’t avoid it because software is written by programmers, and despite appearances, most are fallible humans.

The trouble for young SaaS platforms is technical debt, like its financial cousin, is all too easy to get in to.

A rush to make an MVP, a failure to properly plan a project, and a less than rigorous development partner can all play starring roles.

Luckily, forewarned is forearmed for those yet to get in to the proverbial, but many already up to their waist in it, struggle to drag themselves out.

Typically they want to spend more time and money making the best of a bad situation, often demanding those responsible should tidy it up.

This feels like the right thing to do.

But a poor workman will produce a poor result regardless of the tools, and demanding they rinse and repeat just continues the cycle.

It may even increase your technical debt.

But if you’re playing the long game, investments in poor outcomes are simply sunk costs.

They’re tolls you pay along your way to SaaS success.

So, as you can only spend your resources once, which will it be?

Paying some of your debt today, or investing in a brighter future and paying it off later?


For SaaS businesses, the list of enhancement requests is never ending, and ravenous customers are always asking for more.

What they WANT changes as often as the weather, but what they NEED is far more predictable.

Spotting which is which though isn’t always simple, so it’s important that vendors review their list of feature requests very carefully.

And it’s doubly so that they say NO to a great many.


Because each one might be an expensive gimmick only one person wants.

But more importantly, once they’re out there, you can’t take them back.

A customer now depends on it.

So you’ll have to drag it forward for ever.

It’s a very expensive and onerous millstone slowing you down.

Of course, your developers have the tools to make whatever the customer wants, but then restaurants have a larder full of ingredients and they only offer what’s on the menu.

They keep it simple to simplify their delivery and to ensure they can focus on quality, and there’s probably a lesson there.

Learning to say no to prospects and customers is an important skill, and it’s one that doesn’t come easy because we all want to please others.

And while the old wisdom says the customer is always right, when it comes to software, they have to settle for being important.


For the mountain of value you provide? It must be worth more than that surely!

Consider how #SaaS can improve a business.

  • A more efficient team
  • A lower headcount
  • Reduced running costs
  • Slicker procedures and processes
  • Greater productivity
  • Accurate information at your fingertips
  • Reduced staff turnover

And that’s just for starters.

In fact, there are at least 30 benefits, and I’m sure I could come up with more.

And their value adds up very quickly.

The average employee in Australia costs $100,000 per year.

If your solution can save a wage, surely you’re worth a good chunk of that.

Replacing a team member costs at least 150% of remuneration.

If your solution helps reduce staff turnover, that’s huge value you’re delivering.

It will raise team quality too.

And what about your customer’s customer?

If your solution improves their lifetime value by a few percentage points, your value goes through the roof.

Of course, your prospects don’t know any of this, and if all you’re doing is banging on about how your product works, they never will!

So be sure to tell them how your little pile of features and benefits delivers a mountain of value.

Perhaps those few dollars you charge per month could be so much larger.


Communication failures in #SaaS developments are very common.

They lead to all sorts of fun like –

  • Confusion, chaos and complication
  • High stress levels
  • Projects overrun

Hundreds of thousands of dollars down the gurgler, and hair sometimes literally pulled out.

They happen because you’re all talking gibberish.

Well, you’re not, it’s just the other guys think you are, because domain experts and software teams come from different worlds and speak their own languages.

And then to make it harder, we introduce additional communication layers and complexity.

Project managers do the talking so developers never speak to the client.

They could be offshore, so there’s no common first language.

We use the written word rather than talking, so subtlety and nuance are lost.

Requests are often taken literally, the developers full of the best intentions, but following instructions precisely.

Often they’re “Chinese whispers”, derived from 3 layers of communication across international, language, cultural and time boundaries.

So empathy is key, and it’s critical that both parties take the time to understand each other.

And if you’re not from the IT world, that can be very hard.

So let me know if you need help.

I am after all, a translator of IT gibberish.


It’s the BIGGEST DRAIN on your resources.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, and millions once you get going.

Yet few SaaS leaders know what the money they pour into their development team gets them.

So I’ve been doing a little digging, and here’s what I found.

  • 34% writing new code or improving existing
  • 21% maintaining existing
  • 19% management operations and meetings
  • 14% testing
  • 12% other bits and bobs

And don’t go thinking that writing code is a straight line activity.

For every one line that makes it in to a released product, at least 10 will have been deleted, if not a many more.

And the more inventing that’s required, the slower and more error prone the exercise.

Big chunks of maintenance time gets spent investigating errors.

I recall spending hours looking for the root cause of a fault, only to write one line to fix it.

It’s why developers are paid based on their results and not by the line.

Of course, whether their results are valuable or not is another matter.

They might be creating beautiful software with fantastic features, but if it’s not what your people need, 100% of their time has been wasted.

So, with that in mind, when was the last time you had a full review of your development strategy?


Failing badly and almost daily is all but guaranteed in the SaaS world.

But hey, that’s the R&D process and the reality of building to commercial grade.

And if, like me, you tend towards perfectionism and you’re a tiny bit OCD, it’s a heavy cross you just have to learn to bear.

A software platform is a massively complex machine with hundreds of thousands or even millions of parts working together.

Well, mostly.

It’s put together by fallible humans, often guessing as they go, so design mistakes are inevitable, and bugs are unavoidable.

Pragmatism is mandatory then if you want to remain sane, but far too many try to get everything right.

Analysis paralysis and getting stuck in the weeds are all too common.

Projects are derailed looking for that extra 1%.

Months wasted and cash burned chasing rainbows.

Some go the other way using quick and dirty solutions that lack rigour.

“Move fast and break things” is their misguiged mantra.

A myopic dollar or two saved today but a cost of ownership rapidly spiralling out of control.

Walking the tightrope and finding the your balance is hard, and it’s why people like me exist.

We offer experience, a pragmatic, arm’s length perspective and a wise old pair of eyes

Who’s hold your hand as you learn to keep your balance?