What is SaaS and how can it help your business?
Nowadays many industries are beginning to look for new software to meet the demands of business in the 21st century. As of 2020, most of the technology world is focused on the Software as a Service (SaaS) products. Even though digital integration has become a more common place topic, there are still a lot of companies that are not familiar with the term SaaS. Given that many businesses, especially in industries like distribution and logistics, are moving away from on-premise commercial installations or pen and paper to SaaS solutions. This article will give you some basic information if you still do not know what SaaS is and how it can help your business, likely in any industry, read the article on operational excellence.
What is Software-as-a-Service?
Let’s start by defining SaaS, it stands for software as a service and the title pretty clearly explains itself. Instead of buying an expensive commercial software outright, think Microsoft Office before 365, you rent a software, at a steep price reduction. SaaS is offered in a variety of forms like cloud storage, hailing a ride or running field services. However, even though SaaS can support any industry thus showing the flexibility of the model, they all share a few things in common. The software is always hosted, updated, and maintained on a central server (i.e. the cloud) by the developing company. The customers of SaaS access the service via the internet instead of having to store everything on their own devices. Generally, the only thing you must store is the basic portal that allows you to use the SaaS platform. Lastly, users generally pay a monthly, annual, or some other type of service fee for the software, these amounts vary considerably depending on the service rendered.
Why is SaaS Important and how can it help your business?
SaaS businesses offer several benefits to their customers, whether that be for finding a ride, or a song they like, hosting huge amounts of data, or running multiple field agents. There are many benefits to utilizing SaaS for companies including the reduced upfront costs of commercial software’s, need to install software on individual machines, service scalability with a business’s growth, integrations with other software’s, and instant updates to all users. That is just a few of the benefits. One of the major benefits is that the software never goes out of date, it just keeps getting updated. Thus, there is no potential hold up, we all have dealt with a software 5 years too old that continues to work, but just doesn’t cut it anymore. The biggest benefits of all, though, is flexibility of using the software on your terms and the cost savings over time with the pay-as-you-go model. If you try the software for a short period of time, there is no buyer’ s remorse, you just cancel your service -depending on the terms and conditions – and move on. This means that the SaaS company has an inherent interest in how you use the software. They must make a better experience for you and your business or you can just choose something else.
Tips for looking at implementing SaaS for your business
1. Understand the Cost
With software license costs, SaaS should be a lower cost option compared with the traditional model. However, this is highly dependent on what service you are looking for. Subscribing to a niche service may cost more than a Spotify account, but what would be the alternative commercial software cost. What value is the service going to give your business and what potential cost savings does it offer. Furthermore, SaaS has become an extremely competitive space in the last five years driving down prices and this gives you opportunities to look around the market for a cost that fits your budgets. SaaS should give any business, but especially small and medium sized businesses the advantages of traditional software, with a better cost-benefit analysis. Maintenance, IT, training and other costs should be reduced as well, because the provider supports the environment, offers personal support, and constantly releases new updates.
2. Can it scale and integrate with your operations?
Integration is arguably the number one element of wanting to adopt a SaaS software into your businesses. Integration between multiple softwares, sounds like a difficult task, but actually it is not as hard as one may think. This can be completed with Application Programming Interface (API) integration. This refers to how two or more applications (i.e. softwares) can be connected to each other via their APIs to perform some joint function. In other words, your business can use a SaaS software and integrate it into other on-site or other SaaS softwares. This is an important feature to look for in a SaaS offering. Scalability offers to customers the ability to access more, or fewer, services or features on-demand. Suppose one or two months a year you need 20% more scale from the software, with a SaaS this is easily done. Suppose you need a specific feature set that is not available in the software, but if added would make your business so much simpler. If you talk to the company you may be surprised at the ability for them to build that addition specifically for you, likey for a small development cost.
3. Ease of use and support
SaaS applications should be user friendly since they are supposed to be designed with best practices at the core. Look for options that allow you to demo and try the software first. It is almost like buying a new car, try it and see what you like or do not like because there is a lot of variability in how SaaS offers ease of use to their clients. Look for simple clean layouts that do not overload you with a complex series of steps. You should be able to complete most tasks with simple processes that follow logical and easy to understand tools. Further, look to see what type of support materials, on-boarding process they offer and how responsive the SaaS is to requests for help.
4. Data ownership
In terms of data ownership, you should make clear when discussing or reviewing terms and conditions of a SaaS agreement that there is a clause in the agreement that states unequivocally who owns the data. Most of the time, given you are paying for this service, SaaS vendors will allow you to export your data and back it up locally any time you wish. GDPR is another aspect you should investigate when considering any SaaS service. GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation, and it is pretty much an industry standard at this point. This regulation, originating from the EU, is a series of rules about what companies can do with data that is their clients. This can be both personal and business data and although it mainly applies within Europe, many companies operating outside Europe have also adopted the framework. Look to work with companies that follow GDPR standards.