Remember when all of software support lived in one area of the company? IT was a powerhouse in those days, supporting all manner of on-premise applications. The loss of anyone on this critical team could spell disaster, given how much support they provided to the whole company.

How times have changed! With the proliferation of SaaS software, various departments are using a wide range of tools. Sometimes these tools are connected through integrations or plug-ins, and sometimes they aren’t. In many cases, each department is off in it’s own silo, creating support for SaaS tools in the form of an operations role or group.

The scary proposition was formerly losing any IT staff member, as these employees provided critical software support to the entire company. Now, the support burden is distributed - which is arguably safer for businesses and employees. But there’s a catch: it’s more likely that a departing employee may be taking critical SaaS knowledge when they leave.

With the high complexity levels of marketing automation, CRM, and ERP systems, the loss of a knowledgeable employee can set your business back to the starting line. So what can you do to prevent the loss of institutional SaaS knowledge? Much of it can be pulled straight from an HR playbook - with a little variation:

Determine which departments are using which SaaS tools.

If you’ve been doing our recommended SaaS homework, you may already have this information (or a large percentage of it). If not, you’ll need to take the time to create an inventory of all the SaaS tools your business uses, and which departments use each one. That way you’ll know which departments require support for specific tools.

Find out what group (or individual) is supporting each SaaS tool.

How to ease the transition when critical SaaS stakeholders leave your companyNow that you have your breakdown of SaaS platforms by department, it’s time to do a little more digging. There are a couple logical places to start: with department heads or end users. Both will likely be able to tell you who supports the platforms they are using (if there is someone). Asking questions like “who do you ask when you need a custom report or variable built?” or “who can you ask for help (other than the knowledge base) when you get stuck?” will help point you in the right direction.

And if the answer is “no one” for one department and “John Smith” for another department, you might consider where you could add SaaS support where there isn’t any. Sales could share their support staff with marketing and customer success to close that gap.

Understand the activities and associated documentation that SaaS support staff provide.

Sit down with SaaS support staff to understand what supporting functions they supply. Do they create targeted email campaigns for marketing? Track performance for sales managers? Build custom objects for client success? Whatever it is, it needs to be documented - as a source of reference for employees, and for succession planning.

As you go through this process, use it as an opportunity to challenge the status quo. Should we continue with the way we are doing things? Is there a way to automate or streamline the process? If you’ve got 3 different staff members building the same targeted email campaigns for sales, marketing, and client success, consider consolidating the work under one person to gain some efficiencies of scale. These types of small changes can also contribute to reducing your overall SaaS spend.

Insure there are multiple people trained on SaaS support processes for any given department.

For example, if you’ve got an operations team that has one person supporting Salesforce, another supporting Eloqua and a third person supporting Gainsight, make sure they cross-train so each staff member has an understanding of how to support the other SaaS tools. Consider having end users get a little extra training from support staff to spread the knowledge around. Creating these redundancies will minimize the impact of a single departure.

As an added precaution, inform your SaaS account rep of support processes on their platform. If any of the above efforts fail, they may be able to direct you to their own documentation and training resources to get stakeholders back on track.

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