Your company has hired a technology strategist to help streamline things. After a few days of poking around and analysing, the strategist recommends a lengthy list of changes, including abandoning some of the company’s legacy software in favour of a software as a service (SaaS) model. The suggestion is a good one – but only if SaaS supports your business rather than hindering it.
It should go without saying that embracing SaaS is a move that supports business and makes it better. But you might be surprised to learn how many SaaS providers do not offer the level of support customers need. Not only that, but the actual software they offer can sometimes hinder businesses.
SaaS Has Evolved
The concept of SaaS was initially developed in the 1990s by application service providers who were creating solutions for businesses looking for an alternative to their in-house applications. In those early days, the internet-based solutions providers were coming up with were single-tenant applications that offered very little value. Companies found it hard to transition to provider applications because there was no significant difference between them and their own local applications.
The SaaS of the 21st century is entirely different. Modern SaaS applications are hosted in the cloud, immediately making them far superior to their locally hosted counterparts. SaaS in the cloud allows for data sharing, process sharing, and a whole host of other benefits that enhance business function.
The challenge for businesses is to find an SaaS provider with the kinds of applications and services that make switching the obvious best choice. Just as technology investors need to see the perceived benefits of an investment opportunity before they can be expected to put their money into it, businesses need to be able to see how SaaS providers can support them with their products and services.
Three Primary Considerations
Deciding whether an SaaS provider supports or hinders the business relies on three primary considerations: licensing, software location, and management.
Software licensing fees can be structured based on use or over a specified amount of time (monthly, quarterly, annually). Providers should have enough flexibility to provide a licensing model that works best for the client.
Software location in the SaaS environment should be self-explanatory. Service providers host applications in their own cloud while giving access to customers. There may be interfaces in between to facilitate connection between cloud applications and any locally hosted software still being used.
Finally, one of the primary benefits of the SaaS model is freeing up IT staff to concentrate mainly on local network operations while leaving maintenance and support of applications to the service provider. If the local IT department has to spend time supporting software, there’s something wrong.
As a technology strategist and IT consultant, I have seen first-hand how properly deployed SaaS can support a business in implementing its growth strategies. I have also seen the opposite. Any company moving to the SaaS model must carefully consider providers and what they offer.
By Chris Galley.
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