By Molly Greek. At UCD Health, like other organizations, we consider SaaS (software as a service) as an option for our implementations. We don’t always choose SaaS, but in the last two to three years, the Enterprise Applications team alone has been involved with deploying eleven SaaS applications.
Here are my personal “Top 5 lessons learned” to help others as they consider SaaS solutions:
- Vendors often present SaaS solutions as the “no IT” solution.
It’s not no IT. It’s different IT. While many of the skills needed don’t change, the balance and importance does. Soft skills that are growing in importance include communication, ability to influence, creative problem solving, and business acumen. Key technical skills are integration and authentication, rather than server maintenance and custom development. Vendor management is also critical throughout the contracting, implementation, and production support stages.
- Give up any preconceived notions about what the vendor will provide.
Assume it’s a blank slate organization and you need to document all your needs and expectations in detail – in the contract is ideal. That means the number of environments needed, change management process, SLAs, details on licensing, etc. Don’t assume they can spell ITIL!
- Data security is critical, especially when PHI or PII is present.
Don’t assume the vendor has the same security standards as UC, especially when it comes to personal health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII). The IT security team needs to be involved during the evaluation; you must ensure its recommendations are included in the contract language. Let them know about any relevant changes during the implementation – i.e., the application becomes external facing, data elements are added that makes it PHI or PII, or it moves from being on premise to vendor hosted, etc.
- Configuration not customization!
Customizing a SaaS solution, when it’s allowed by the vendor, adds risk, time, and ongoing problems with upgrades. Whenever possible steer clear of customizations.
- Find out what others are doing.
Ask if anyone else at UC is using this solution or interested in using it in the near future. You can use UCTech on Slack! Reaching out to other UCs to collaborate makes for better implementations and can offer potential cost savings for all of us. This extra step is worth the effort.
Interested in adding to these lessons learned? Email Molly Greek.