Rohan is the Co-founder, CEO, and Board Member of Wolken Software. His last role was as the Head of Sales for Europe for L&T Infotech for 7 years, having grown the sales from zero to over $120 million. Some of his notable past positions include working as the Head of European Sales for Infosys and I-flex. He has spent over 20 years in Europe and the Americas in IT leadership roles.
With the number of small and medium enterprises looking to outsource their IT systems and functions, choosing the right SaaS providers has become crucial. This makes selecting the right SaaS provider more challenging, especially when all the providers are making claims of helping you revolutionise your experiences by giving you something extra. This article discusses key factors SMEs should consider while picking a SaaS partner to help businesses make intelligent and efficient decisions.
Benefits of SaaS for Enterprises
The emergence of SaaS in the workplace has enormous benefits. It has empowered businesses by cutting down costs, improving employee and customer satisfaction, and enhancing communication, to name a few.
SaaS business model reduces the hardware and software license acquisition burdens for enterprises. It also removes the need for organisations to maintain and update software. Businesses can keep their operational expenses within the budget with their pay-as-you-go models.
SaaS applications can be scaled up and down easily with minimum costs. Whether an expensive acquisition or a seasonal recession, you don’t need to worry about hardware sitting in your room and losing value.
Factors to consider before choosing a SaaS provider
The main questions that SMEs must address before opting for a Software as a Service Provider are:
- Why are you opting for the SaaS service?
You must first understand the fundamental reason you need a SaaS service, as this will help in your quest to choose a provider and implement the solution in your business. You must decide the benefits you are expecting from your SaaS model – whether to reduce infrastructure maintenance or improve remote collaboration across departments. Separate your requirements, and understand your current environment and integration requirements.
- Is the solution entirely a SaaS product?
There are several hybrid solutions in the market, so it is essential to understand if the solution you choose is a genuine SaaS solution. Actual SaaS products only need a browser to run. If the product asks you to install any special software or keep specific application components on-premise, it may not be a full-proof SaaS solution, and you may pay more.
- Does SaaS fit into your existing and future user scenarios?
SaaS products only need a browser to run, but compatibility issues with the older version of browsers could exist. There can also be subtle differences in the visuals and functionality between browsers. In addition, you must consider mobility as well and ensure that your SaaS provider supports both iOS and Android. A responsive design is required if you intend to use the solution on devices with varying screen sizes.
- What are the exit options for SaaS adoption?
In the fast-evolving internet space, you must know how to terminate the services of a SaaS provider when necessary. Companies may be acquired, go bankrupt or change strategically. You must be aware of exit options to build portions of your business workflow on a SaaS platform. It would help if you did not choose a SaaS provider that locks you in with their services.
It would be best if you were offered options to export or migrate data in the contract. Some providers may hold on to some of your data for some time. If that is against your data policy, ensure that you request them to erase all your data from their system.
- What is the kind of support that the SaaS company provides?
The optimal way to assess a SaaS provider’s support is by signing up for a trial, as many vendors do not deliver the “first-class support” they promise. Create a trial account, fill out support tickets and review the response. You should always create an actual account for a few weeks to test the service and avoid any future expenditures. Your users must be directly connected to the SaaS vendor’s helpdesk to handle issues that need escalation.
- How does the solution integrate with other services?
Operational workflows seldom work only with a single software, and one main reason to move to the cloud is for better integration options. Reputed SaaS providers offer outstanding APIs for integrations with standard office applications. Ensure you research all the integration options your provider provides that align with your business requirement. Analyse if your existing environment and skillset are sufficient to implement those integrations.
- What Service Level Agreement does the solution provide?
The SaaS provider specifies the services the client will receive in the Service Level Agreement (SLA). It contains the measurable aspects of the services offered, such as quality and availability. It also conveys the consequences of not adhering to the promised standards. Ensure that all aspects of the contract are covered in the Service Level Agreement. When you are moving your business across the cloud, ensure you are satisfied with the SLA offered by the vendor.
- Are your employees ready and adequately trained to adopt the SaaS solution?
It is necessary to impart proper training to employees to implement new SaaS-based solutions. Many SaaS providers, as well as third-party companies, offer training for new customers. Plan the training program for your customers carefully, as the success of the SaaS adoption depends significantly on employee acceptance.
- What is the pricing model of the solution? Look out for any hidden costs?
Unlike other traditional software models, the SaaS model pricing is not straightforward. The costs are variable and depend upon various factors such as API hits, user count, usage, bandwidth, etc. If the provider offers you an excellent price, consult your legal team to review the fine print to discover hidden fees and address them.
The Final Word
The popularity and demand for SaaS solutions will increase in the coming years. If you decide to begin adopting SaaS in your business and move your operations to the cloud, you must achieve it smartly and efficiently. It would be best if you planned your adoption meticulously to take advantage of the cloud while minimising its drawbacks.