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Lean startup as a guideline for SaaS at Acsone

As a software integrator Acsone focuses on developing customised business software applications. This is a highly labour-intensive business model that is hard to scale, a situation that encouraged the Brussels-based company to diversify its activities. Sirris helped it make the transition from custom software to a standard Software as a Service (SaaS) product in the construction market. Via a series of Sirris workshops Acsone mastered lean startup methodology.

There is a world of difference between developing custom software and a standard SaaS application. The former requires not only the relevant IT skills, but also significant project and account management expertise. On the other hand, selling an IT application requires a totally different business model. So Acsone had to start from scratch by accurately defining the actual product, market segment and price.

Rollout in stages

“Shifting from a service to a product entails a lot of risks”, says Nick Boucart (Senior Advisor Software Engineering & ICT at Sirris). “To minimise those risks, we organised workshops to familiarise Acsone with lean startup principles. We showed them how to effectively define their target group and product specifications so that they could then market the application in a step-by-step fashion.”

Sirris also organised a test session with potential customers and provided training in lean pricing, a hot topic in new product development. As a result, Acsone was able to roll out its first version of a scalable application quite quickly. In line with the lean startup philosophy the company asked for a lot of feedback from its 'early adopters' and regularly updated the application. In the meantime, these lean strategies have already led to attractive new customers in the construction industry.