How To: SaaS Onboarding vs. Non-SaaS Onboarding
By Harris Clarke
Dec 3, 2021
saas vs non-saas onboarding

What’s the difference between SaaS vs. non-SaaS onboarding? How do their onboarding processes differ? Let’s start off with some definitions.


What is SaaS Onboarding?

According to CloudShare, “SaaS onboarding is the process of helping new users set up and use a piece of cloud-based software – ‘Software as a Service’ – so that the users will realize its benefits. SaaS solutions are becoming the de facto way that companies operate.”

SaaS onboarding is the education and implementation process that proceeds the purchasing of the software-as-a-service. 

At GuideCX, we cater to SaaS companies, but also more specifically,

  • HealthTech
  • AutoTech
  • FinTech
  • EdTech

Learn more about our industries.


What is Non-SaaS Onboarding?

Because SaaS is a software, a non-SaaS onboarding is the onboarding of a product or service that’s not a software. 

Pretty simple, right? 

For example, say you’re a restaurant supply company and you’re selling a high-tech oven to a new customer. The onboarding process would include the process of delivering, installing, and educating your new customers on the basic mechanics. When does it need maintenance? How often? How do you know? How do you connect it to your restaurant database system?

I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about ovens, but the onboarding process likely also includes the education of the oven so it’s used to its fullest potential. 


Why and How They Should Be Treated Differently?

Understanding that SaaS and non-SaaS onboarding is so different, there is a lot of room for creative onboarding for both. One guideline  to consider when building out that onboarding plan, is that 65 percent of people are visual learners, so clearly outlined steps, illustrations, and videos might be effective.

With SaaS, customers are usually using computers. With non-SaaS, customers can be using anything else. 

This means non-SaaS customers require more instruction and direction of hands-on examples. Whether this is with video or in-person, they’re more likely working with physical objects besides a computer. Try the following:

  • An instruction manual with diagrams
  • Indstructional videos
  • In-person training and experience


However, with SaaS customers, it can be easier to experience the product that’s right at their fingertips. Here are ways you can make sure your customers are getting the onboarding they need:

  • Interactive modules 
  • Instructional videos 
  • Zoom calls 


Usually onboardings involve more than this, though. Both SaaS and non-SaaS onboardings have papers to be signed and goals to be aligned. It’s also important for project managers to make sure these goals are being met. 

Whether you’re onboarding SaaS or non-SaaS customers, you need to provide a reliable experience. A process that can be customizable but improved upon as you onboard more customers will ensure success.


Learn more about how you can manage your onboarding process

Harris Clarke

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