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Does SaaS open the door for “change fatigue”?

MaryRasmussen ‎07-26-2013 05:41 PM - edited ‎09-27-2015 07:20 PM

What is “change fatigue”?

Change fatigue is often associated with organizational change and refers to the negative impacts that too much change can have on stakeholders. Change can push people out of their comfort zone and invigorate them in their work.  But when change occurs at a frequent pace, it can lead to frustration, dissatisfaction and even performance issues.


How SaaS is different

In on-premise environments, when a software vendor releases  an upgrade,  the customers deploy it at a pace which they dictate. Users may even elect to skip or defer an upgrade, for any number of valid reasons. I’ve seen customers who “leap frog” releases as a standard process – where they install every other release. This may not be an option in a SaaS environment.


The difference with SaaS is that the SaaS provider is responsible for pushing the upgrade, including system updates, like monthly patching, as well as new application releases.  This is one of the big benefits of a SaaS solution, but at times it can be problematic. A vendor will typically schedule all instances for the upgrade.  Vendor nirvana is having all his customers on the same software versions as it streamlines support operations.  Exception handling is required to delay or skip a release.


Deploying a major software upgrade on the service desk generates a plethora of activities from analysis to testing to documentation to end-user training.  The software update may offer welcomed improvements—but it can also become a morale buster due to the extra work involved and on top of already heavy work schedules.  


Certain new features typical in SaaS may also promote change. A native-SaaS service desk has the benefit of being built from the ground up on new technology that provides a foundation for modern features like codeless configuration and social collaboration that enable change. Codeless configuration directly impacts change by giving administrators the ability to easily do tailoring and configuration, and these changes can add on to the change experience on the desk.


The new style of IT service management puts an emphasis on social collaboration enables an active feedback loop on the service desk. When a new service desk release goes live, administrators and users are able to immediately share their impressions then relay that information to the vendor.  With the ability to patch and deploy quickly in a SaaS environment, the vendor may become reactive and push out smaller upgrade packages more frequently  that unintentionally increase the change cadence.


A few practical tips

I’m not convinced that in the end SaaS really increases the risk of change fatigue – but here are some good tips regardless: 

  • When moving to SaaS be sure to understand the vendors policy and possible costs around out of band upgrades
  • Maintain good communications with your SaaS vendor and service desk stakeholders especially around upcoming change scenarios
  • Review your change management process and decide if there need to be any  updates to best serve managing a cloud service desk
  • Be vigilant in the use of codeless configuration -  even though (or especially because) it’s so easy to use – think about end user impact

What are your thoughts?

How does your team deal with change?  What changes do you find the most disruptive or the most rewarding for your service desk team?  Do you have any experience with change fatigue? Please share your experiences with other readers in the comments section below.

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About the Author


Mary (@maryrasmussen_) is the worldwide product marketing manager for HPE Software Education. She has 20+ years of product marketing, product management, and channel/alliances experience. Mary joined HP in 2010 from an early-stage SaaS company providing hosted messaging and mobility services. Mary has a BS in Computer Science and a MBA in Marketing.

on ‎07-29-2013 09:31 AM

Thanks Mary for the hints, thinking of the "organizational management of change" dimension to this, this comes up in almost every discussion regarding "change management". I submit that there is a continuum of the degree of "change" that can/could occur with any release of the service desk itself. When processes change that impact the way end-users deal with the help/service desk and/or how agents/operators do their jobs, then "management of change" increasingly come into play.


This is likely different from your change fatigue topic, but also a common challenge. Education, incentives (carrots), and ... all can come into play.


Also makes me think of Windows 8.



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