SaaS / Cloud KPIs

What are you measuring?

KPIs is SaaS is a good way to measure your business. It is not the only way to measure and you often end up measuring the business looking backward. This is wrong. You NEED to measure the business looking forward. So your backward analysis is to define the trends and you project forward looking KPIs.

Don’t start measuring when you get your first customer. Call them instead and understand. A minimum expectation is to get 100 customers before measuring your SaaS business. Anything else, is measuring the mess and have no trends or validity.

In addition, you create levels of acceptable ranges. For example, churn can be between 1-4% monthly. Anything higher is unsustainable and as you measure you can call the red flags.

Each KPI can be viewed in a range of dimensions/segments.

  • Dates: Often monthly, quarterly and yearly.
  • Channels: License models, sales channels, geography etc.
  • Customer segmentation: size, type, profile etc.

SaaS KPI list

KPI Description Calculation
ACV Annual Contract Value.
  •  Total contract value / 12
ARPU Average revenue per user/unit. An indicator of revenue based on the user or unit base of your business.
  • Total revenue / total number of user/units assigned to the revenue
ARPA Average revenue per account. Unlike ARPU, ARPA is calculated on the number of customers.
  • Total revenue / total number of accounts assigned to the revenue.
MRR Monthly recurrent revenue. RR on a monthly scheme.
ARR Annual recurrent revenue. RR on an annual scheme.
RR Recurrent revenue. Often mistaken by run-rate. Not the same.

 

Recurrent revenue is the portion of your business, which will auto-bill and reoccur automatically.

CAC Customer acquisition cost. To cost assigned to acquiring a new customer including sales and marketing cost.
CRR Customer renewal rate.
Churn Churn is an indication of a loss in your business. We define churn into different elements:

 

·         Customer churn

·         Revenue churn

·         Seat/user churn

 

100 customers at the start of the period, 7 of them cancel by the end. Your churn rate is 7/100=0.07 = 7%

 

You can use customer churn rate to calculate average customer lifetime if you divide 1 by your churn rate.

By dividing 1/0.07, we see that a 7% churn rate equates to a customer lifetime of 14.2 months.

 

Revenue churn may not be loss of customer. But simply customers moving to another tier or plan.

Customer churn:

  • Lost customers / total customers

 

Revenue churn (monthly):

  • Lost MRR / total MRR

 

Seat churn:

  • Lost users / total users
COGS Cost of goods sold
CLTV Customer lifetime value, also indicated LTV.

 

The value a given customer delivers to your business over the time.

CMRR Committed Monthly Recurring Rate. More or less a modified version of MRR, the goal of tracking committed monthly recurring revenue is to show what a SaaS company’s revenue stream will be going forward if the business halted its sales and marketing efforts.
LTV Customer lifetime value. See CLTV.

 

Example:

 

$100 ARPA / 0.1 churn rate = $1000 LTV

Your LTV / CAC should be >= 3x.

ARPA / Customer churn rate:

  • ( Sum of all customer MRR / Total # of customers ) / ( # of customers who churned / Total # of customers )

Simple:

  • MRR * Gross Profit % * #lifetime in months
PBP Payback Period. The period before any customer is paid of the investment to acquire.

Your PBP should be <= 12 months.

PBP = CAC / MRR * Gross profit %
ROI Return of investment.

This list will be regular updated.

Tools for your customer experience

In an earlier article, I described a model for how to optimize your trial and customer experience. In this article allow me to focus on some real tools for you to drive your business.

  • A customer platform. A no. Not a CRM platform. A customer platform. What’s the difference? Well, if you think CRM – 99.0875% of all of you think sales force and marketing. In SaaS – the service is everything. From sales, to support to marketing, to help, to customer engagement to conference calls and online webinars. Still there is no single handed SaaS platform on the market, so your platform for customer will be multiple apps integrated… CRM, ERP, HRM etc. Choose wisely and consider the cost of integration.
  • Drive your customer onboarding automatically. WalkMe is a set of amazing snippets you design and insert into the framework of your application. WalkMe is a great way to automate “how to use” and “show me” features directly with your SaaS application. The WalkMe use a clever engine to basically do the steps for the user, by integrating into the HTML. I really encourage you to learn the structure – www.walkme.com.
  • Automate your customer triggers. Marketo is the defacto standard of optimized process management for onboarding and managing both customer sign up and customer journeys. As you open the doors to your SaaS application, you need to design every aspect of customer experience. From signing up, to activating, to getting people on the platform and to billing. Marketo can design these workflow based on the platform, instead of bundling 100’s of apps to drive the same. www.marketo.com.
  • What are my users doing? I have participated in more than 1.000 reviews and board meetings on the discussion of investments and future strategy for these companies. I always see the same conversation; R&D says “we would like to invest into feature A to optimize our code”. Sales says “well new users need feature C so please help otherwise we cannot sell more”. Marketing says “customers search for B”. And I always ask – “what does the customers tell you?”. The room go silent. All think of the burden if any is tasked to call 50-200 customers and ask. Sales and marketing leave the room as they need to do to “the toilet”. Reality is the CEO/MD failed a complete different place, but lets leave that for now. Telemetry is the key to your insight and above all you need this so emmence.  SaasOptics or www.telemetrytv.com provide a platform to engage. UPDATE- Microsoft Azure now provide a telemetry as a service. This is technical and not business – so you need to craft a middleware.
  • Billing and dunning. This is the most important investment you will drive. Probably a key part of your customer platform, but often a separate ERP integrated with multiple credit card vendors. I urge you to use an automated platform example www.upodi.com.

But wait? You did not explain where the CEO gone wrong in “what are my users doing”. Well please revisit this article, and this. In addition learn the following; in SaaS/Cloud – your product is a service. Your service is your organisation.

There are no siloed organisations where R&D handover to product marketing and they handover to marketing whom handover to Sales. STOP DOING THIS. Your customer is really the center – and there is no boundary. R&D CAN easily own all marketing communication.

UPDATE – Very good article here to review the telemetry designs.

Apps, Cloud, Saas? But show me the money!

Let me state a fact: I have a lot of interesting discussions with independent software vendors (ISVs) every week. New, existing and competitive ones. I love it – it is the best part of my job, and has been the best part of the last 8 years of my carrier.

Over the years I build a competency of connecting ISV to new business models, transforming their business model and helping them focus on one thing: scale and superiority. Main goal for them all – are to make money whilst they sleep. Who wouldn’t? 🙂

However, there is one question constantly being open, and ISVs tend to be cautious about the new endeavors of the cloud – how do I make money? It is without any doubt a good question, and I am a strong believer of “seeing is believing” – “cash is king” and “build to scale”. Let me bring proof:

SAP Challenges Oracle With $3.4 Billion SuccessFactors Purchase

In 2001; a bright Dane – Lars Dalgaard moved his family to the US after acquiring a business going bad. Lars reinvented the business model and re-launched SuccessFactors. SuccessFactors was a small cloud/SaaS type solution targeting mid-market customers with a HR software solution. The idea behind the platform was simply to drive the HRM on a subscription base. Over the cause of 10 years, the platform grew from simple HR management to become a strong enterprise offering; now driving Business Execution Software in the cloud. And boy oh boy that was a strong move.

Cloud introduces a change in the adoption of software. With the outsourced software management, you also benefit of the change in buying persona. What SuccessFactors did as second to none, was to enter directly the CEO or Boards of Directors as the platform was considered a true business management tool. It was not an IT solution; nor a productivity tool as Word, Outlook or Excel. Simply put- Lars built the recipe for success embracing all aspects of the cloud.

So the money?

$3.4 Billon is a lot of money. The second conversation I always have with ISVs are; “how do I make millions of customers”, as the great long tail story is perceived as the only business model. You need to build Facebook all over – or do you? 3.500 customers were all it took. $0.97 million per customer account; but do not believe SAP bought SuccessFactors due to the customer base. I previously discussed reasons for acquisitions, and simply put – I believe SAP did the barging of the century.

And simply put – remember that SuccessFactors was listed on the New York stock exchange. In other words, Lars did the income model; TWICE.

SuccessFactors should us a lot of new faces in the cloud:

  • You do not have to build the business from 1 employee and up. Buying bad managed old school companies can be the footprint of your cloud enterprise.
  • Long tail is interesting, but not limited to the success of your SaaS company. If you earned $0.97 million per customer, consider your cost of acquisition per customer vs. income.
  • Changing the buying persona will accelerator the adoption of your software. My rule of thumb is to serve both trenches – IT and business at once!
  • Building a niece players, will leave our in any uncontested business space. Simply put – you will be setup for a lot of exit opportunities!

Closing off, I simply challenge you to take a review of your business and build the next SuccessFactors.