Utilizing a SaaS mindset to Graduate

a century-old business to the future.

Modernization, migration, and innovation to create a product that leverages the full potential of AWS, resulting in a solution that empowers business growth beyond the competition.

Herff Jones is a national, leading marketer and manufacturer of student achievement products, including caps and gowns, graduation rings, yearbooks, and more. Chances are, you or your children have used them to commemorate educational achievements. 

Our initial engagement with Herff Jones began when we were asked to help save them from the imminent failure of their yearbook e-design software. We focused on modernizing and transforming their aging 14-year-old platform and infrastructure into a best-in-class product, while also re-platformed the legacy system to run in parallel until the new MVP product was released.

By leveraging the full potential of AWS, we turned their software into a SaaS product, approaching the challenge with a product mindset by combining business planning with modern cloud-native application development. We designed and built a solution that allows the business to grow, surpass the competition, and enables customers to work with agility and creativity.


“CleanSlate helped us merge our product team and developers to create a holistic platform.”


Many of Herff Jones’ business-critical challenges led back to a single source: their foundational application was built on outdated, aging infrastructure – they had to modernize, and quickly. Always in response and defense mode, the technology team at Herff Jones faced a long list of challenges, with a few rising to the top:

  • Operational inefficiencies slowed business and product innovation.
  • Slow go-to-market planning and delivery capabilities meant the competition pulled ahead and customer satisfaction declined. 
  • System scalability was limited and failure-prone, while system reliability was low and unpredictable.
  • Fixing critical bugs took months, not days, affecting user experience.
  • System lacked proper monitoring and logging – there was no proper measurement of impact. 
  • Onboarding process for new clients was highly manual and failure prone. 


Through our partnership, Herff Jones was able to see that the SaaS productization of a modern cloud-native application would lead to not only innovation and market share but also a robust, agile platform that could grow with them. To help spark that moment, we worked closely together to understand their business plan and bring it to life using our technical expertise and prioritization of product decisions. 

We followed a proven operating framework for effectively implementing a SaaS solution that merged the business and technical sides. 

The Business Side

Herff Jones primarily owned the business side, and we worked together to ensure their business vision and goals would be fully realized—and monetized—through a SaaS AWS solution.

  • Product Roadmap—chart a path toward transformational change
  • Go-to-Market Planning—launch a best-in-class product to capture market share
  • Monetization and Packaging—stand apart and ensure a secure future
  • Customer Success—what does it look like, how do we measure it?
  • MVP Approach—by adopting an MVP approach, we can launch faster

The Technical Side

Developing the business and technical sides in tandem is a dance. One leads for a bit, and then the other. Herff Jones and CleanSlate similarly traded leads—they developed their business vision and goals, and we brought them to life as well-built, future-proof technology. This included:

  • Profiling, Analytics, Identity and Access
  • Tenant Isolation and Multi-Tenant Storage
  • SaaS DevOps—focused on agility and operations
  • SaaS Design Decomposition
  • Partner Integration
  • Modernization—leveraging AWS services, Angular, and Java development
  • Product Design & UI/UX

We live and breathe AWS SaaS. For us, it’s about more than delivering a product strategy—it’s about bringing the experts together to create market-shifting applications that provide meaningful experiences.



Over forecasted revenue growth

6 Months to Daily

Release frequency


Customer satisfaction and retention rates

Our partnership delivered tremendous value through technology implementations. CleanSlate was able to design and build a solution that creates value, resulting in improved business growth, customer retention, and operational efficiencies. 

A few select results highlight the business value realized by our client:

  • Achieved 30% over forecasted revenue growth after the first year of the launch.
  • Sales went from trying to stay afloat to playing offense with innovative products far ahead of the competitors.
  • The platform supports a range of customers, from experienced users to beginners, with over 8,000 school systems with multiple users per school enabled to collaborate and build yearbooks with isolated customer information.
  • Improved customer satisfaction and retention rates with an agile and dynamic process development and release cycles that fixed issues faster and catered to their customers’ wish lists.
  • Far surpassed the competition with more than 200 unique features implemented.
  • The new platform has empowered Herff Jones to leverage the technology and explore new, innovative business opportunities, from augmented reality to digital lockers and more.
  • Exceptional customer experience through a highly prioritized and collaborative UX/UI product design process. 
  • Increased release frequency from 6 months to daily and dramatically reduced downtime.
  • Enabled more than 100 developers to work on SaaS modernization efforts with continual deployments and multiple AWS environments with the ability to build non-production environments in less than 1 hour.


“I can say with 100% confidence that we are best in class. Our new platform and technology lets us look to the future and consider what’s possible next.”

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