SaaS companies are companies that provide “Software as a Service,” a way of “renting” software that is maintained outside of the businesses using it. SaaS involves an enterprise vendor hosting and operating applications online. This means that businesses that wish to use the software do not have to purchase licenses and upgrades and maintain IT infrastructure, but instead pay a monthly fee for access. In addition, analysts have found that discontinuing or switching from one SaaS software to another has lower costs than switching from traditional licensed software. So the question arises of how to choose between SaaS companies that offer competing products.
The SaaS model is spreading and includes both business applications — such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management), email, financial management, HRM (Human Resource Management), SCM (Supply Chain Management), and web conferencing — as well as development tools, so the first task with considering different SaaS companies is finding those that offer the type of software you need. Though you may wish to start by trying out only one element of your business in the new model, it would be wise to look for SaaS companies through which you can meet all of your potential future SaaS needs, if possible. This will enable you to have a single source, both for convenience and because you may get a better deal. Also consider hybrid models that offer a combination of on-premise solutions combined with cloud computing applications. Of course, no matter how you plan to use SaaS, when comparing SaaS companies, you also want to compare the pricing structures.
Because some SaaS companies offer services in addition to the software in their SaaS model, check around to see what is being offered and determine how additional services may suit your business’s needs. It’s also important to look at the flexibility of the options, including the ability to add features or change payment methods. Ask yourself which of the SaaS companies have the scalability you need. Also, consider the degree to which you can customize and/or configure the software to fit your needs.
Although SaaS lowers costs by outsourcing the overhead of running software applications, having documents move outside of the company Intranet, and depending on a service for data reliability and redundancy is a risk. The way to mitigate the risk is to choose SaaS companies that shows a dedication to and guarantee of consistent, secure operation and five nines — 99.999% — uptime. You should also check the support options: both the range of types of support offered, and the hours of availability of these options.