Change Management for SaaS Adoption (+Examples)


In 2022, the average organization used 130 SaaS platforms to enable employees with the tools to be more productive, improve operational efficiency, and deliver better customer experiences.

The cloud transformation process involves a shift in technology, as well as a significant transformation in organizational culture, processes, and workflows. Successful digital transformation implementation of such complex, mission-critical enterprise systems requires a well-planned change management strategy that enables technology end-users through change projects. 

A practical, well-documented change management strategy facilitates successful implementation, rollout, maintenance, and widespread adoption throughout an organization. It guides and supports all stakeholders, regardless of employee role, end-user type, and experience level, through the transition and deployment to ensure new digital applications and workflows achieve their intended business transformation outcomes post-implementation.

This article explores the indispensable role of change management in the context of new software implementations, the risks of failed change projects, presents a detailed step-by-step guide on working through a SaaS implementation plan, and real-world examples to demonstrate how effective change strategies can lead to transformative ROI for digital cloud investments

Why Is Change Management Critical for SaaS Implementation Success?

When discussing SaaS implementation and related change plans, the disruption of established processes and workflows opens the possibility of risk. Organization leaders and IT teams must bridge this transition period and support end-users with an effective change strategy that guides end-users from legacy applications and processes to new cloud software.

Besides informing employees of upcoming process changes and embedding new workflows into daily operations with minimal friction, the focus should be on providing contextual guidance, reinforcement training, and moment-of-need support mechanisms for all end-users. This enables employees to transition smoothly and quickly adopt new processes, anchoring new workflows and supporting them through the end-user adoption journey.


Above is an example of enabling end-users on a new enterprise SaaS platform with contextual in-app guidance and support (in this case, on Salesforce) built using Whatfix’s digital adoption platform.

The interconnected nature of cloud-based SaaS applications means that these platforms have the potential to touch every corner of an organization, from finance to frontline operations. Effective change management orchestrates this transition in a manner that keeps the business engine running: meticulously planning the rollout to mitigate disruptions and ensuring continuity of critical functions

synchronizing cross-departmental efforts to maintain operational harmony.

The malleability of SaaS solutions is both their strength and a potential pitfall. Why? 

Customization options are endless, but without a strategic change management approach, these options can lead to misalignment with business goals, leading to failed digital investments, poor technology ROI, and low end-user adoption

Experienced change managers will prioritize configurations that sync with user needs and overarching business objectives. They guide teams to tailor the SaaS environment to amplify functionality while removing unnecessary complexities that could hinder user adoption and efficacy.

The shift to a SaaS environment is also fraught with data security challenges, and the risks aren’t just theoretical — they can have tangible impacts on business credibility and compliance. 

Change management in this context involves more than technical safeguards: it embeds a culture of security awareness, ensuring that every stakeholder understands the implications of data breaches and is equipped to protect sensitive information. This change management aspect extends beyond the IT department, enveloping every user with a security-conscious blanket.

The final stage of the change management process for SaaS implementation is unlocking the full potential of new digital investment by enabling end-users. Once a new enterprise software is launched, ensure that its core features and your contextual, custom-built processes are leveraged to drive business outcomes. 

Effective change management identifies and promotes the use of SaaS capabilities that align with business goals, ensuring that the organization not only adapts to the new system but thrives because of it. This approach guarantees that ROI extends beyond a financial figure and into a reflection of enhanced operational efficiency and strategic advantage.

Recruitment company Reed successfully transformation its sales processes and adopted a new cloud CRM with Whatfix’s in-app guidance and self-help, creating a role-based, interactive training and onboarding system that reduced down time, improved efficiency, deflected support tickets, and empowered end-users.

The Risk of Failed SaaS Change Management

A misstep in change management can precipitate a domino effect, starting with internal employee resistance to the change and culminating in poor digital adoption for end-users that use the application and its workflow wrong – or fail to use the new application entirely. This resistance is frequently rooted in a need for more clarity about the new system’s benefits or apprehensions about its complexity. 

SaaS change plans overcome this by enabling employee with comprehensive training, real-time support, and transparent communication — all contextual to different departments and roles that will be affected by the change. This ensures that end-users are not just aware of the new system, but understand its impact, realize its value, are supported across its contextual processes, and most importantly – know how to use it.

Inadequate change management, on the other hand, often translates into operational turmoil. When employees grapple with unfamiliar workflows, the result is a drop in productivity and a spike in inefficiencies. These issues don’t exist in a vacuum; they ripple through the organization, affecting everything from internal processes to customer interactions. 

While you may assume this is rare, it’s not. Over 70% of digital transformation projects fail.

Effective change management must preempt disruptions through scenario planning, providing alternative workflows, and setting up rapid-response teams to address emergent issues. It’s about maintaining a balance where operational changes are absorbed and integrated seamlessly, ensuring business continuity.

The absence of a robust change management strategy can result in a SaaS implementation becoming a financial sinkhole rather than a strategic investment. A key to avoiding this is ensuring that the full spectrum of the SaaS solution’s capabilities is explored and exploited,  turning every feature into a functional benefit that contributes to the organization’s bottom line, and ensuring that the investment in the SaaS solution yields dividends in the form of improved efficiency and competitive advantage.

A lax approach to data security can expose the organization to data breaches, loss of sensitive information, and regulatory non-compliance. Combat this with regular training on data protection, clear communication about the stakes of non-compliance, and stringent monitoring during the transition phase. Moreover, it incorporates robust contingency planning and ensures rapid response to security threats. 

At its core, enterprise change management is as much about managing people as it is about managing technology. Ignoring the cultural dimensions of a SaaS implementation can foster resistance and disengagement, impede the current change initiative, and sow seeds of doubt for future transformations. 

To navigate this, change management must be empathetic, inclusive, and participatory, fostering an environment where feedback is encouraged and acted upon. This helps build a resilient organizational culture that views change not as a threat but as an opportunity for growth and innovation.

8 Steps of the SaaS Change Management Process

While every change project will differ, SaaS change initiatives can follow the following roadmap to ensure the transition goes smoothly and ultimately achieve the desired goals and outcomes of the digital investment.

1. Assess the benefits, needs, and risks of the SaaS change

Evaluating the alignment of a SaaS solution with business objectives is the crucial first step. This involves thoroughly analyzing how the solution addresses current needs and potential future challenges. Assessing both short-term and long-term impacts allows for a comprehensive understanding of the solution’s effectiveness in meeting business goals.

Identifying potential risks and challenges in SaaS implementation requires a holistic view encompassing technical, operational, and human factors. This is vital in preempting issues arising during implementation and planning strategies to mitigate them effectively.

Analyzing the ROI and TCO for justifying the SaaS investment should consider both tangible benefits — like cost savings and efficiency gains — and intangible benefits — such as improved user experience and organizational agility.

2. Identify all stakeholders and assemble a change team

Identifying all stakeholders affected by the SaaS change is crucial for effective change management — think of employees, management, IT staff, customers, and partners, each of whom will experience the change differently.

Assembling a cross-functional team of change agents ensures having diverse perspectives. This team should represent different areas of the organization to lead the change initiative effectively, ensuring all viewpoints are accounted for.

Clearly defining roles, responsibilities, and expectations for each team member and stakeholder group is essential for clarity and accountability. Everyone involved must understand their role in the change process and what is expected of them.

3. Define and plan SaaS change project scope, timeline, budget, etc.

A clear outline of the scope of change includes detailing the systems, processes, and departments affected, providing a comprehensive view of the change’s reach within the organization.

Establishing a realistic timeline with crucial deployment and adoption milestones is critical for tracking progress and ensuring timely implementation. This timeline should include specific stages of the implementation, allowing for a structured and phased approach to the change.

Allocating a comprehensive budget for the change management process should encompass not just the software costs, but also account for training, support, and potential contingencies, ensuring that financial resources are available to address any unexpected challenges

4. Communicate the upcoming software change

Developing clear and consistent communication is vital for stakeholder buy-in: it articulates the reasons behind the change, its benefits, and how it will impact various stakeholders, aligning everyone with the change initiative’s objectives.

Employing multiple communication channels ensures that the message reaches all parts of the organization. This multi-channel approach — including emails, meetings, and intranet postings — caters to different communication preferences and reinforces the change message.

Encouraging two-way change communication — crucial for addressing concerns — allows stakeholders to voice their questions and concerns, providing valuable end-user feedback that can be used to refine and improve the transition process.

5. Provide contextual end-user onboarding and in-app guided training

Tailoring training sessions to the specific roles and needs of different user groups ensures that each segment of your workforce receives relevant and actionable knowledge. This can be facilitated with a digital adoption platform like Whatfix, which provides a no-code editor for IT teams to create in-app guidance with role-specific training materials. This includes Task Lists, Tours, Flows, Smart Tips, Field Validation, and more.


Employing practical, moment-of-need training methods enhances end-user understanding and adaptation to new systems. Interactive walkthroughs and in-app guidance are effective ways to achieve this, allowing users to learn in the flow of work.

Ensuring the availability of comprehensive support materials — manuals, FAQs, and how-to videos — helps users to self-serve and find answers to their questions independently. This approach fosters user autonomy and confidence in using the new system.

“Whatfix is a top vendor, great solution. With a heavily customized Salesforce instance and multicultural processes to cater for, the flexibility of Whatfix empowers us to get the right training to the right people, at the right time.”

Lee Glenn, Senior Specialist, Global CRM Training at Experian

6. Enable end-users with moment-of-need support and reinforcement learning

Providing real-time assistance, such as help desks or chat support, is crucial for resolving user issues promptly. This immediate support system helps in minimizing frustrations and disruptions. For real-time assistance, tools like Whatfix can be leveraged to offer help desks or chat support, addressing user issues as they occur.

Strategies like regular refresher courses or lunch-and-learn sessions provide best practices that help reinforce learning and ensure long-term user proficiency. These could include short, focused sessions or updates on new features and best practices.

Ensuring that support resources and learning materials are easily accessible to all users is essential for continuous learning and support. Digital adoption platforms can be particularly useful, with Whatfix empowering end-users with Self Help.


Self Help integrates with your SOPs, training resources, third-party links, video repositories, and more – enabling end-users with a searchable support center that overlays on your applications.

7. Analyze change with end-user behavior analytics and feedback

Employing end-user analytics tools to track user interaction with the new system provides valuable insights into usage trends and areas needing improvement. This data is critical for understanding user engagement and adapting adoption and end-user enablement strategies accordingly. 

Application analytics tools like Whatfix empower IT teams to track and monitor end-user interactions with the new system, offering valuable insights into usage trends, user behavior, and adoption. This empowers IT teams to identify areas of friction, allowing them to deploy additional in-app guidance and user assistance to overcome these friction points and create optimal workflows.


Regularly collecting user feedback through surveys, interviews, or focus groups, is key to understanding user satisfaction and uncovering challenges. This ongoing feedback loop allows organizations to stay attuned to user needs and experiences, facilitating continuous improvement.


Utilizing insights gained from analytics and user feedback is essential in making informed adjustments to the change management process. This data-driven approach enables organizations to refine strategies and interventions for better alignment with user needs and organizational objectives.


8. Address areas of friction or low adoption

Identifying specific areas where users need help or fully utilize the SaaS solution is crucial for targeted improvements. This involves monitoring user engagement and identifying patterns of underutilization or difficulty — and solutions like Whatfix can be used to identify areas of friction and develop targeted intervention strategies with additional in-app guidance and on-demand support.


Developing targeted interventions, such as additional training sessions or system modifications, addresses areas of low adoption or user struggle. These interventions should be focused and tailored to address the specific challenges identified.

Fostering a culture of continuous improvement in change management involves regularly revisiting and refining the change process, ensuring it remains responsive to evolving user needs and organizational goals. This approach promotes agility and adaptability in changing dynamics and user feedback.

Software clicks better with Whatfix's digital adoption platform

Enable your employees with in-app guidance, self-help support, process changes alerts, pop-ups for department announcements, and field validations to improve data accuracy.

3 Examples of SaaS Change Management Success Stories

Let’s look at how three enterprise companies achieved digital investment ROI with a SaaS change plan, anchored by Whatfix’s digital adoption and end-user analytics platform.

1. Sophos facilitated SaaS change management and drove Salesforce CRM adoption

Sophos, a global leader in cybersecurity, faced challenges in driving the adoption of Salesforce CRM across its diverse, global workforce. To tackle this, Sophos implemented a strategic change management approach focusing on personalized training and support. 

The organization utilized Whatfix’s digital adoption platforms to create contextual, in-app guidance, significantly simplifying the learning curve for their global team. As a result, Sophos witnessed a remarkable improvement in CRM utilization, showcasing the effectiveness of their tailored change management strategy in driving technology adoption and user engagement.

Sophos’s approach to change management exemplifies the power of customized training: leveraging real-time data and feedback, the organization continuously refined its end-user training and support methods. 

The dynamic approach ensured that their training remained relevant and practical, underscoring the importance of a user-centric approach in change management — especially when dealing with complex, enterprise-level software systems.

“I realized the value of a DAP at home while on my iPhone. Every new app installed walks me through how to use new features once they are installed. I realized a work application should be no different. In the modern world, people expect change. They also expect change to be made smoothly and as easily as possible. Whatfix does that.”

Phil Walley, Sales Operations Manager at Sophos

2. Ferring supported its Icertis CLM transformation with in-app guidance and support

Ferring Pharmaceuticals embarked on a transformational journey with Icertis’s CLM platform — a shift requiring substantial change management to ensure successful adoption. 

The key to Ferring’s success was implementing in-app guidance and support created with Whatfix, providing end-users with real-time, contextual assistance. This approach significantly reduced the learning curve and minimized resistance, facilitating a smooth transition to the new CLM system. 

In addition to the in-app support, Ferring’s focus on continuous user engagement was critical in successfully adopting Icertis CLM. User feedback and usage patterns helped identify areas of improvement and implement timely updates, leading to higher satisfaction and better utilization of the CLM system. 

Ferring’s story highlights the significance of ongoing user support and engagement in ensuring the success of a SaaS transformation.

“When they showed Whatfix to me, I approached our CLM change committee and said that we cannot successfully implement our new CLM without Whatfix.”

Sheila Dusseau, Head of Global Legal Operations at Ferring

3. The Select Group enabled recruiters and accelerated its ATS transformation

The Select Group (TSG), a leading staffing and recruiting services provider, faced the challenge of transforming its applicant tracking system (ATS). To accelerate this transformation and enable its recruiters, TSG employed a comprehensive change management strategy. 

The strategy was centered around providing extensive in-app training and support tailored to the specific needs of their recruiters. Whatfix’s digital adoption platform empowered TSG’s recruiters in navigating and maximizing the new system’s capabilities. The result significantly enhanced user proficiency and efficiency, leading to a faster and more effective recruitment process. 

The personalized training approach ensured that the recruiters were familiar with the new system and could leverage its full potential, thereby optimizing their recruitment workflows.

Recognizing that change management is a continuous process, TSG focused on gathering end-user feedback and adapting its training and support mechanisms accordingly. This iterative approach ensured the system aligned with the recruiters’ evolving needs, its processes were frictionless, and they were supported at moments of need, leading to sustained adoption and optimal utilization of its ATS investment that drove business outcomes for TSG.

Accelerate SaaS change adoption and enable end-users to drive business outcomes with Whatfix

With Whatfix’s digital adoption and behavioral analytics platform, enable your end-users with contextual, in-app experiences and moment-of-need support to drive software adoption and achieve your business outcomes powered by technology.

Whatfix enables end-users with contextual in-app guidance for onboarding new employees to complex, mission-critical software like CRMs, HCMs, ERPs, etc., as well as providing moment-of-need support to end-users at key moments in your digital processes that achieve optimal workflow governance and overcomes areas of digital friction.

Analyze your digital workflows to identify the areas of dropoff and friction for your end-users. This provides a data-driven roadmap to where should create new in-app content like Flows, Smart Tips, and Field Validations to provide contextual support and additional information at key points in your process. It also provides insights into what new end-user support and help documentation you should create, as well as new training and onboarding materials could help overcome friction areas.

Request a demo of today and see why software clicks better with Whatfix.

What Is Whatfix?
Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that provides organizations with a no-code editor to create in-app guidance on any application that looks 100% native. With Whatfix, create interactive walkthroughs, product tours, task lists, smart tips, field validation, self-help wikis, hotspots, and more. Understand how users are engaging with your applications with advanced product analytics.
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Whatfix's digital adoption platform empowers your employees, customers, and end-users with in-app guidance, reinforcement learning, and contextual self-help support to find maximum value from software.

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