As Assent Compliance rapidly expands, growing from 15 employees in 2015 to several hundred today, CEO Andrew Waitman is bolstering his management team with industry veterans experienced in helping companies scale.
The Ottawa SaaS firm, which develops software to help companies manage supply chain data related to compliance and regulatory demands, has also rapidly grown its global customer base while introducing robust new product features and functionality at a quick pace.
“When you’re moving at such high speed, you have to be aware of rocks in the road sooner,” says Waitman. “As we looked ahead, we anticipated serving more customers with a richer set of product functionality. Because we’re innovating and adding value so quickly, it can sometimes be overlooked, so we knew we needed to scale our approach to product training.”
But, as Waitman reviewed the firm’s internal capabilities, he realized the company would find it challenging to build in-house, enterprise-level product training expertise fast enough to maintain Assent’s growth momentum, and still meet the needs of its customers and employees.
It’s here Waitman saw an opportunity to bring in an industry veteran and turned to Lauren Thibodeau, SaaS Customer Experience and Business Strategy consultant at Stratford Managers, to evaluate Assent’s product training approach and make recommendations.
“Bringing in a subject matter expert, like Lauren, can help you defeat time and rapidly grow in specific areas,” says Waitman. “Just like when building my leadership team, I was looking for someone with deep domain knowledge and industry experience relevant to the Assent context. Lauren was an excellent fit.”
As Thibodeau explains, “Assent recognized, at a stage earlier than many companies, that product training is a strategic enabler of product adoption, which is critical in the SaaS context. If customers don’t know how to use your product, they won’t adopt it, they won’t get value, they won’t renew their subscription, and they certainly won’t buy more.”
In addition, Assent also needed to ensure new features and updates to its software were being communicated to its sales team and broader employee base – a challenge that’s especially acute for SaaS firms as they are “constantly” upgrading their products based on customer needs and feedback.
‘Insurance against subscription churn'
Thibodeau started by creating a product training roadmap that showed Assent’s current position and where she recommended the firm should be in 12 – 24 months given its overall growth trajectory and goals.
The roadmap created by Thibodeau spanned dimensions including strategic alignment, people, process, technology, content, business and delivery model, and operations.
She then leaned in to coach and mentor the Assent team so they could execute on the roadmap and measure progress and results. To Waitman, it was critical to create “champions” within the organization for product training so that the knowledge that was transferred doesn’t get lost.
The roadmap created by Thibodeau features role-based training content, delivered across multiple channels that work for a global audience, supported by scalable technology that provides a combination of upfront foundational learning, and ongoing learning opportunities throughout the customer’s lifetime. It also efficiently repurposes training content across audiences, such as customers, suppliers, partners, and employees.
“Effective product training, when it’s part of a holistic learning and adoption strategy, is your insurance against churn,” says Thibodeau.
“Churn is one of the top three or four metrics that investors look at when they assess the health of a SaaS organization,” says Waitman. “So when product training is done well, it can have a top-line impact on the business.”
On the client side, Assent will soon implement various initiatives that will prompt users to try new features or engage in online training. Through direct feedback, Assent will gain visibility into actual product usage, which will inform product enhancements and development of additional training content to support adoption.
“A successful SaaS company has to put initiatives in action quickly and see what works,” says Waitman. “We’re all about solving puzzles and finding solutions.”