Let’s consider Project Management activities as a business operation for brief illustration: why does SaaS make sense!
Come together: Collaborate with stakeholders without any boundary
If your business operations are driven by project based methodologies, today entire project organization requires common software and dataset to work with. For globally distributed or ‘virtual’ teams – the need of an hour is collaboration: collaboration in the form of email, message communication – sharing of documents, sharing project plans – activities – timeline & relevant information.
The SaaS based solutions allow users to share documents, project plan, tasks, issues, risks, comments and relevant information with internal team members, – employees, PMO, management as well with external stakeholder such as customers, vendors/partners as necessary.
The SaaS solutions are designed for global access & availability 99.9x% of time; so it can be accessed from anywhere and at any time too. These days, many SaaS applications are available on mobiles devices too.
Pay-as-you-go: Flexible pricing
SaaS Solutions are available with flexible pricing – pay only for what you use. This flexibility can be in terms of
Number of users
Duration of use
Extent of functionality
Usage can start from minimum required users (and/or limited functionality) and easily scale to number of users (or extended functionality) as suitable to its business requirement. Most of the SaaS offerings can be availed for the duration as short as a month till lifelong. Though, some SaaS vendors may ask for minimum commitment at the time of subscription or availing service.
Lower TCO: No hardware, No installation, No Administration, No maintenance
Take a trial, evaluate it & buy later
Trust me, this is the best part of it. You need not buy a true SaaS solutions upfront. The most of the SaaS solutions offer variations of freemium model which allows users to try SaaS solution free for certain period of month without any charges. If user feels that the solution fits his business/organization requirement, he/she can go ahead and purchase subscriptions.
Far lower upfront cost
To avail benefits of SaaS solution, user need not buy hardware or need not install any application. It means there is far lower upfront cost user needs to pay; as against conventional software solutions which require provision for hardware, installation, configuration, administration and maintenance before availing benefits of using softawre software.
The pricing applied for SaaS offerings are generally transparent. The subscription charges as well as charges for any add-on packages are mentioned for a given SaaS offering. In case, vendor wants to offer discounts for large-size accounts, it may disclose it on the website or may request customers to contact separately.
By and large, there are no hidden charges or fees are levied on customers unlike conventional software which normally require backup, installation, maintenance, security provisions and upgrade are to be handled separately & customer usually end up paying for such hidden costs. On the other side, the SaaS vendors generally take care of above aspects as part of default SaaS offering.
As there is no need to do installation & setup; customers can benefit from ‘subscribe-and-start-using’. If user wishes to customize SaaS solution to suit his/her business requirement and if the SaaS vendor has made provisions for customization in SaaS solution, user can do it on the fly. But overall, user save significant time on setup if he/she uses SaaS solution as against conventional software.
Web 2.0 | Social media influence
Because of Web 2.0 technologies & frameworks and significant influence of social media sites, SaaS solutions are being designed to be intuitive to use, easy to navigate. Typically, good SaaS solutions are expected to have shorter learning curve, lesser training requirement hence lesser documentation, visual material requirement – e.g. just like popular social media sites, good SaaS solutions do not expect users to right click within internet browsers .
Use of cutting edge technology
With Evolution of SOAP, REST, etc technologies & frameworks, the benefits of innovative technologies are being passed to customer. These benefits can be in terms of usability, performance, integration, etc. With proper adoption of technologies and hosting solutions, the SaaS solutions are observed to have reasonably comparable performance as conventional software.
Start using new feature(s) seamlessly
The SaaS based or On-demand solutions allow you to try and evaluate benefits of latest features introduced by SaaS provider. The importantly point to note here is user does not have to worry about updates or migration required in conjunction with newly introduced features. Generally, SaaS vendors takes care of these aspects. I don’t have to mention, what it takes to upgrade with conventional & installable softwares.
Why SaaS solutions are boon for small and medium businesses?
If one look at software solution providers like Microsoft, SAP, IBM, Oracle and biggies alike: conventionally these software solutions, though may be great, these have been expensive & complex to install, administer & use. These solutions typically require specific hardware configurations for installation. The factors like expensiveness of solutions, hardware-resources requirement, maintenance cost, administration cost etc have constrained small and medium Businesses (SMEs) from using these software solutions and they have been refrained from possible benefits such as efficient functioning of businesses, increased productivity and enabling more focus on business aspects.
The SaaS model is changing the business dynamics. Low or almost no cost of evaluating software, transparent pricing, ease of use and ready to use capabilities: these benefits, rather, I would say opportunities, are available for SMEs to do their business in productive, efficient manner yet spending lesser on such software solutions. This is the very reason why SaaS solutions are gaining vast popularity among small & medium businesses.
Essentially, SaaS is a simple yet powerful concept that helps you to run your business in better ways.
Note: Author has taken his views considering some of SaaS offering available in market.