Software as a service (SaaS) has been around for nearly three decades, but its popularity has surged in recent years. An increasing number of organizations are leveraging SaaS to access cutting-edge software for a fraction of the price, with much less hassle than more traditional solutions.
Before jumping in with SaaS, here are five important steps to be certain it’s the right fit for your organization and ensure a seamless deployment.
1. Determine why you need SaaS.
If you can’t identify tangible ways in which a SaaS solution will impact your business, you aren’t ready for it. Many organizations are pursuing SaaS to address changing workplace conditions. Bring your own device (BYOD) is becoming popular in business, since most of today’s workers want to use devices with which they are already familiar. This can be a real headache—and even a potential security threat—to employers, since many are using unauthorized SaaS apps to access company information. Deploying SaaS solutions you can control will improve security, even on employee devices.
You simply may want to pursue a SaaS model to offload software maintenance needs onto your third party so you can free your IT team up for other projects. Or, maybe you want to connect disparate teams via a single solution and streamline their workflow. Whatever your reasoning, you must clearly outline what you seek from SaaS before jumping in.
2. Know the benefits and drawbacks.
Most organizations opt for SaaS because it can afford far more benefits than a traditional software delivery model. Accessibility is one of the most sought-after features of SaaS. With software solutions available via the cloud, organizations can access the platforms they need for key business tasks at any time of day and from anywhere—as long as they have an internet connection. SaaS solutions also ensure your organization will have the latest versions of software, since your provider will update its offerings on your behalf.
When you opt for SaaS, your organization will be able to freely scale your services to meet emerging needs. Should you enter into a period of high demand, you can expand your subscription to meet it without spending large amounts of money on your own infrastructure. This also makes it easy to scale your services back so you don’t waste any of your cloud budget on software you aren’t using.
This isn’t to say SaaS will only bring benefits to your organization. Without the right governance, you could open your organization up to security threats or struggle to maintain compliance with security regulations. Many SaaS users also struggle with data mobility, particularly when they are looking to migrate between providers.
3. Choose the optimal pricing model.
With SaaS, your organization can choose from many different pricing models and find the one that best suits your unique needs. Some providers offer software via a “freemium” model, which boasts many complimentary features. To unlock additional functionalities, you must subscribe to a package. Flat-rate pricing is also common. This will require you to pay a set monthly fee to access all the features within a given software solution. Some SaaS providers ask you to pay for each user rather than the software itself, while others charge you based on usage.
Conduct research to determine which SaaS pricing model will be best for your organization. As you search, be sure to look at incentives available at each SaaS provider. Some may offer multi-year contracts and discounts to help you save on your SaaS needs.
4. Make sure your organization has the right skills.
SaaS adoption can be onerous if your team doesn’t possess the skills needed to manage this new type of software deployment. Your IT team will need to be well-versed in architecture and app integration, especially if you will have a mix of SaaS and on-premise software. Additional skills in software testing and governance also will be necessary for successful SaaS management. Your business analysts will need to hone their own understanding of SaaS configuration, since they will be key in matching your SaaS solution to your business needs.
Don’t worry if your organization doesn’t have all these skillsets. In many cases, your SaaS provider will fill in the gaps (especially if you choose one with ample experience). Some providers have industry-specific knowledge, which can make adoption even easier if you’re in a highly specialized sector that requires uncommon expertise or uses specialized applications.
5. Promote a quick adoption process.
When gearing up to deploy your new SaaS solution, you will need to get all your ducks in a row if you want to ensure adoption goes as smoothly as possible. As with any new venture, you will need to get your organization’s leadership on board with your SaaS adoption. You will require more than approval to get the adoption process moving forward: These individuals will need to become SaaS advocates and set the bar for their own teams. If they start using your SaaS solution, the remainder of staff will follow suit.
You can’t expect your team to know how to use your new SaaS product automatically, however. To ensure high usage of SaaS, you will need to train your staff on the ins and outs of your new solution. Teach them how to use it and how it will benefit their day-to-day work. The more they understand about the product, the more likely it is that they’ll use it.