Why Software + Services is do damn difficult!

A while ago a published a presentation on SaaS Adoption, addressing the influencers for adoption. Today I was working on a presentation on the impact of changing from a Software company towards a Services company. This is a topic very likely on the mind of many traditional software companies.

Image credit: Balaji

Let me share some of the observations I've made:
1. Software companies usually deal with software releases about every 18 months with a few service releases in between. The main releases contain many new feature, often a new look and feel and a significant effort is put in launching the new release. Product development, Training, Support, Marketing, Sales etc.. all function groups operate on the rhythm of the product releases.
2. Services companies operate on a different rhythm. The product almost constantly update in very small steps and product launches are history (except for complete new ones). There are no product releases as the heart beat of the company.

Changing from a Software company to a Service company is a complete DNA change of the organization. Traditional companies making this shift have a hard time. I've learned it's very hard to make this change. The establishment (Software) doesn't understand the future (Services) and the other way around. For this reasons the two are often separated into independent organizational structures.

Combining the 2 different DNA's required for a Software + Services solution looks to me as almost impossible. You take on this?

2 comments

Agreed, the DNA's are so different; the organizational cultures must be separated.

Success case Salesforce dot com: Make an API simple and perpetually backwards compatible that the integration process always works despite Software + Services following different pace of change.

How to make a API this simple?

I don't think that separating the two organizational cultures is bad. Especially in the beginning, it can help to keep balance between the two. A small but growing group of front-runners can show the establishement what the future looks like. That way, not everybody has to change his thinking and behavior immediately and organizational change happens gradually.

By the way: your statement is valid for that part of the organization involved with the development of products and services in the broadest sense. But changes in the way that product updates are created and implemented is not the only DNA-change required in an organization moving from product-oriented to service-oriented. Marketing, sales, consultancy, customer support and even F&A: they will all need to play a different ball game.

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