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If you intend to compete in the enterprise SaaS arena, effective reporting functionality isn’t just a differentiator – it’s the price of entry. With the market continuing to mature, larger businesses increasingly expect any SaaS application they implement to feature a robust set of user-facing SaaS reporting capabilities. These tools enable enterprises to see the value that your app is delivering, and justify their investment in your product.
Your core technology is naturally the biggest factor in determining the success of your SaaS product, but it can’t stand alone. To appeal to enterprise customers, you also need to offer a number of generic, baseline SaaS capabilities that will enable businesses to integrate and consume your app with minimal friction.
In a BetterCloud survey of more than 1,800 people across IT roles and organizations, respondents ranked reporting and analytics as one of their top priorities when purchasing SaaS applications. The main reason why enterprises place such a premium on SaaS reporting is that it lets them see how effectively the software is performing, whether it delivers what it promises, and whether it is worth the cost. Applications in an enterprise environment must deliver total transparency together with clearly demonstrable value, so you need to give customers the tools to look under the hood and show your app’s worth.
Churn is a major challenge for SaaS companies, with customers churning through an average of 30% of their apps each year. But if stakeholders can easily prove the effectiveness of your product, it’ll improve retention, and can even lead to wider adoption across the organization.
Different user groups – such as developers, finance staff, and sales teams – will have different reporting needs. The more groups you are targeting with your app, the more reporting features you will need to offer. That being said, there are a number of key capabilities that you should always look to provide:
One of the most straightforward ways that users consume data from their SaaS applications is through regularly scheduled reports, typically delivered by email. You need to enable customers to set a schedule, choose a format, and define the metrics they want to see. After setting these parameters once, the user should then receive automatically generated reports on a regular basis, keeping them informed with no further effort required. Remember to make sure that your reports are cross-platform compatible and look great across different email clients.
For customers that want to dig a little deeper, you should look to provide interactive, personalized dashboards for self-service reporting. The dashboard should enable users to generate their own reports on the fly, and drill down on precisely the SaaS reporting metrics that matter to them. This level of customization is a great way to meet the requirements of a diverse user base, and is a key feature of enterprise-ready SaaS products.
Going one step further, you can alternatively offer dynamic data stories that deliver insights directly to each user based on their role. According to Gartner, usage of interactive dashboards in the enterprise is actually declining in favor of these “new augmented and NLP-driven user experiences”.
While we wouldn’t go so far as to write off dashboards just yet, it’s certainly true that not all the data and functionality you offer will be relevant to all users within an enterprise. By providing user management capabilities, you can give your customers control over which employees can see which data points, who can access the dashboards, and who can view reports. Not only will this prevent users from being overwhelmed by tools that aren’t applicable to them, it can also help enterprises keep sensitive data secure.
Every user has their own preference for report format, and you need to support as many as possible. Ensure that your customers can export their SaaS reports to Excel, PDF, Word, JPEG, etc. Additionally, look to provide advanced exporting options, such as the ability to choose which data fields to export.
The older the information in your reports is, the less useful it is in facilitating data-driven business decisions. The circumstances in which enterprises operate are always changing, so making truly informed business decisions requires real-time data. When developing SaaS reporting functionality, you should aim to enable your customers to generate live reports using the most recent data possible.
Following these guidelines should help you develop robust and sophisticated reporting functionality that meets the needs of large businesses. However, reporting is only one element of an enterprise-ready SaaS product. You will also need to integrate a range of other capabilities to support your core technology, such as webhooks, SSO, and audit logging. At Frontegg, we specialize in building these baseline SaaS components. Head over to our product pages or stay tuned for future blog posts to learn more about how you can deliver the best possible enterprise user experience.
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