SaaS is not just the smack teens talk to their parents.
Jokes aside, as most know, SaaS is an acronym for “Software as a Service.” It’s defined as:
“A cloud-computing approach to providing users with computer applications. Instead of each user having to install the software on his computer, the user is able to access the program via the Internet.”
These days, SaaS products abound, though they’re most commonly used for customer retention management, human resources, marketing automation, expense management, and procurement.
Though SaaS is not a panacea, most organizations can benefit from these products. It boils down to that mythical place called the cloud, where SaaS products live, versus traditional hardware/software purchases that need to be installed on-site.
The main benefit in purchasing an IT service over the cloud means it’s no longer your responsibility to constantly upgrade your hardware/software solutions. With SaaS your provider takes on the challenge of keeping up with the technology arms race. This is often an easy business case to make.
There are other benefits, too. Among them, fast deployment, less cost of total ownership, early insights into best practices of specific programs, and less overall risk.
Problem is, not all SaaS vendors are created equal.
In the interest of helping businesses with the important decisions re SaaS purchases, here are:
9 questions every business should ask any SaaS vendor before making a purchase
1. Can your SaaS product integrate with our core software? What about other SaaS products we may use? There’s no use in making a big investment if new SaaS product can’t integrate with what you’re already using for your business. Asking upfront can save serious money.
2. Do you have a Research and Development roadmap for this product? A good SaaS provider needs to have an R&D roadmap to demonstrate the commitment and ability to future-proof their service. It’s the only way they’ll future-proof your investment, after all.
3. Will customer input figure into future updates and upgrades? Smart businesses listen to the clients and integrate their feedback. This applies as much to a good SaaS vendor as anyone else.
4. What level of security does your software provide? What protection techniques are used in your data center to protect our info? Security concerns are a main reason companies avoid SaaS. Generally this is unfounded. However, you should ask these questions.
5. What happens to our data if you go out of business or we end the relationship? Things happen in business. Your data needs to be easily exportable and accessible if a provider goes belly up or you decide to go with someone else.
6. Do you have varying levels of support? Obviously your team will need to contact a tech desk, but some SaaS vendors take things further and offer fully managed services.
7. How much training will our staff require on your SaaS product? How is training delivered? A new product means new systems and new training for your team. Ideally the SaaS provider makes the uptake of new info as easy as possible.
8. How does the subscription work? Do you have flexible payment terms? Simple enough, but this is an important question since SaaS contracts can be inflexible. It never hurts to ask about your options.
9. Can we get a few case studies and/or references? As with any B2B buying decision there should be others who can attest to the efficacy of a particular service.