There’s no quick answer to planning your SaaS project and getting a SaaS product launched. Everything takes time, plenty of testing and continual refinement. But if you start out with a solid understanding of what’s involved, the rewards can be huge. You’ll likely find yourself noticing overlap from the steps required which you initially outline in a plan and it’s important to know that the business plan behind your SaaS will continually develop. 

In this guide we are going to give you an overview of how to plan a SaaS project, some of the key elements involved and why they’re important. 

Create the solution to a problem

By this stage you should already have some understanding of why you’re looking at planning out your SaaS project.

You need to have identified the problem your potential SaaS product solves before you consider getting into the bulk of your SaaS plan. If you know that your idea is going to solve a problem quicker, better and (where warranted) cheaper than competition, you’re going to be in a strong starting point.

Start out with a lean planning

In the initial planning phase there is little-to-no chance you’re going to be in a position to draw up your entire business plan and even if you do, that’s going to change. Instead you should focus on the fundamentals of your project, which is where lean planning comes into play. 

As we know, a SaaS business plan is far from static by comparison to other business plans. So lean planning is a great place to help you understand how to plan your SaaS. In short, it’s a fast way of getting your idea mapped out and being able to work in sprints:

What you’re going to do – strategy

There are a handful of important elements to include for your strategy:

  • Your value proposition
  • An overview of the problem your product solves
  • An overview of your ideal audience; who you’re targeting and why
  • The competition; why your product is going to be better or differ

How you’re going to do it – tactics

Following on from your strategy, you’ll be planning your tactics:

  • Sales opportunities and how you will be selling
  • How you’re going to get your product in front of your ideal audience
  • Understanding what’s required; resource, team, funding

How you will generate revenue – the business model

Next you move on to understanding in brief how you’re going to make money:

  • Where you think your revenue will come from
  • What expenses you are likely to incur

How you’re going to make it happen – moving forward

Finally, you’ll be looking into the who, what and how… your initial action plan:

  • Scheduling your tasks
  • Setting out dates
  • Assigning responsibilities
  • Keeping on top of budgets
  • Being accountable so not to waste money, time and get lost or overwhelmed

The key points outlined above should give you an understanding into the crux of a plan for your SaaS project, but of course you should be looking to continually research to find out; where similar projects have been successful, unsuccessful and why. 

You should be aware of not running into things headfirst without clear direction, and obviously seek expert advice as you move up from lean planning to a thorough business plan.

Know that you’ll need to validate

This is one of the key elements of any SaaS project – validation. And, understandably, validation isn’t going to happen overnight, it’s going to take work. 

We’ve already fleshed out the different elements for idea validation, but in short you must know you’re going to need to validate. The process gives shape and structure to the idea(s) behind your SaaS project, and while idea validation comes a little further down the line than the initial planning stage, it’s worth knowing what’s to come.

READ ME: Getting started with idea validation

Have an idea of pricing, but expect it to change

As with any stage of your SaaS plan journey, you’ll be conducting research into pricing models. SaaS typically runs as a subscription-based model, so customers can pay monthly or annually. 

While you’ll need to get an early idea of pricing into your plan, which will become more apparent from your lean planning, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s going to change and potentially continue to change thereafter. You should realistically be planning with the lifetime value of your ideal audience in mind; the longer they’re subscribed, the higher their value. 

Create a brand

SaaS is competitive, so it’s essential that you plan for how you’re going to make your company stand out, be memorable and different so that your ideal audience chooses your product. 

It isn’t necessarily a step in your planning that’s going to require a budget being set aside for top-level agency branding as it can start out internally.

Elements to consider in your brand planning:

  • Consistency – how you’ll become memorable 
  • Resonate – how you’re going to get your ideal audience to buy-in
  • Tone – how you’ll get the right tone of voice for the industry your product serves
  • Socials – how you’re going to get yourself out there
  • Domain – how you’re going to be visitable and remembered

Knowing when to get your product build underway and how much is required

Getting started on your product build as soon as possible (obviously after the key initial planning) is going to help you in the long run. 

Elements to consider ahead of your product build planning:

  • Generate interest with a landing page
  • Get advertising
  • Work on B2B/B2C outreach (your ideal audience)
  • Find the balance of MVP and overdevelopment
  • Keep to a workable budget
  • Don’t forget budget for marketing
  • Gather as much end-user feedback as possible (beta)

Work with experts

It’s important to remember to play to your strengths and identify when you’re going to need help during your SaaS journey. The more information you can put together in your initial research will be a huge step towards being able to thoroughly plan your SaaS project. 

A working business plan will be important to the success of your SaaS, but products will always fall short of the mark without the right strategy, structure and execution.