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Software as a service (SaaS) will continue to exist. It is without a doubt the direction many industrial models will take in the future, even going so far as to include the XaaS (Everything as a Service) paradigm. This opens up a vast array of prospects for developers and IT workers, but not without upskilling.

With an annual growth rate of 18%, the SaaS business is currently valued at more than $145 billion. Its adoption rate is also important to note; according to studies, 99% of businesses will use at least one SaaS solution by the end of 2021.

In addition to adoption, there are more opportunities for experts to make more money. In India, SaaS companies reported paying salaries that were 30% more than those of the more established IT service providers. This is undoubtedly wonderful news for developers, but it is also a wake-up call for those who choose to reject it.

The good news is that there is still time for you to join the team. Developers need to upgrade their abilities beyond technical ones in order to compete in the SaaS industry. It will involve elements of product engineering, marketing, management, and, to a certain extent, sales.

How to Build a Successful SaaS Developer Career

A SaaS developer creates apps that are offered online as services. Through the SaaS model, third-party suppliers can create and host software products that customers can access via a website, a mobile app, or another online platform.

SaaS applications can be used for practically anything, including productivity tools, CRM programs, accounting programs, teamwork programs, inventory management programs, database management programs, and more. Software suppliers prefer the SaaS model since it is less expensive to create and maintain the application. Additionally, scaling up and down is simpler as the software’s demand increases and decreases.

  • SaaS developers are responsible for building and maintaining the software that powers a SaaS vendor’s business. If a company is selling access to its software as a service, you’ll probably find a SaaS developer on its team.
  • The SaaS developer builds the application, tests for bugs and defects, and helps iron out the kinks before the software is released to the public.
  • SaaS developers may also be responsible for maintaining and scaling their application as it grows. This may include monitoring the application’s uptime, analyzing user data to find bottlenecks and errors (and correcting them accordingly), and scaling the application to handle more simultaneous users.

As a SaaS developer, you’ll need to keep an eye on two things: the product and the business.

  • The product side of your job will involve building and maintaining the software that powers a SaaS vendor’s business. You may work with a development team to create the application, or you may be responsible for the entire development process yourself. Depending on the company, you may also be responsible for the design/user interface (UI) of the application.
  • The business side of your job will involve helping the company understand its customers. You may be involved in marketing activities, customer interviews, surveys, and other types of research. The SaaS developer also tracks the product’s performance and user feedback. You’ll need to make sure the product is working as expected, and that customers are receiving the best possible experience from it.

Problem-solving capabilities

Considering that any SaaS developer worth their salt must be proficient in cloud computing, being able to solve problems is also a prerequisite. Firstly, in order to succeed and provide value, critical thinking is essential as this industry isn’t like the traditional IT space. Due to cloud computing, processes are usually on shorter deadlines and may require hotfixes that go live at the earliest. 

As such, engineers in this field have the required training to be problem solvers. As most developers will be working in teams, solving major issues in a collaborative format will demand ample technical prowess. From process management to design and even security, this skill is of utmost importance.

Read Also: How do You Evaluate a Solution to SaaS?

A good starting point would be to familiarize yourself with the various cloud architectures. Being proficient at the commonly used platforms via specialized courses will give you a leg up when it comes to problem-solving. The more adept and knowledgeable you are in working with a given cloud platform, higher will be your contribution to the team.  

SaaS security

With how popular the SaaS model is, it is important that developers pay close attention to security. In fact, data security and its protection are top concerns for most professionals working in this industry and for good reason. Considering that services rely on the cloud, vulnerabilities jeopardize the critical and sensitive data of everyone in the system. Naturally, oversights here are usually catastrophic, resulting in costly damages. 

In fact, data published in late 2019 found companies claiming that their employees were a weak spot in their security. So, to avoid being a liability and to ensure that good cybersecurity habits translate over into your work, effort must be made to understand SaaS security. Cybersecurity awareness training is the first step here and is crucial to making it second nature going forward.  

Compliance skills

Sharing similarities with security, compliance is another field that professionals will have to get accustomed to, and learn to work with. Since SaaS positions the offering directly to the enterprise or the end-user, there are data privacy and information security standards that must be adhered to. These may be industry-specific standards, completely fleshed out with a proper framework or other standards of equal specificity. In any case, it falls onto the developers to know how to work within these norms and ensure that there’s no exposure to non-compliance when working with a vendor.  

Data management

For many developers, data management was just another field that didn’t pique their interest enough to follow full-time. However, with the shift in the landscape to XaaS models, data management can no longer be ignored simply because data is everywhere. Take IoT, for instance, which has several data points requiring a skilled developer to know how to best leverage them for optimal function. 

This includes its storage, accessibility, implementation and auditing. In some cases, data analytics and integration may also factor into the mix. So, to ensure that you’re up to speed and can handle what will likely get thrown your way, getting well-versed in languages like Hadoop and MYSQL, alongside others, may be a good starting point. 

Content personalization and digital marketing

It would be wrong to assume that upskilling for the SaaS industry means honing your technical skill alone. While you will be required to be proficient in popular programming languages and platforms like Python, JAVA, PHP, Linux, and others, employers need more. The job now demands a greater level of innovation as SaaS solutions become part of every mode of operation. For instance, IT specialists are now required to create solutions that work within the organization, automating menial tasks to increase efficiency across employees from different departments. 

So, the task here is for the IT specialist to come up with a customized solution that works within the given infrastructure. Besides being able to customize on demand, the SaaS model has a hand in almost every digital service offered. As such, being aware of the key fundamentals of e-commerce, digital marketing, and design may be necessary. Only by understanding key problem areas for such industries will you be able to innovate sophisticated solutions that solve real problems. 

As the SaaS industry continues to evolve, teams that employ such specialists will, as well. It won’t be long before the lines between developer and administrator are so blurred that it becomes indistinguishable to tell the two apart.

After all, this pace of change is why many get into the IT space to begin with. So, embrace it and reap the fruits of upskilling to be part of an industry that is changing how the world interacts with software.

To develop cloud-based SaaS software, specific job roles need to be filled. Here’s what the composition of the SaaS development team will look like.

Project Manager

The role is responsible for planning the software development process, assigning team members tasks, and following up on their progress. The product manager will ensure that progress meets the set timeframe and requirements.

Business Analyst

This particular job role will be responsible for analyzing the software’s position in the market and documenting its progress, assessing and building a viable business model for the client/company.****

UI/UX Designer

One of the main Job positions is UI/UX designing and implementing the application’s interface and experience.

Backend Development Personal

A person who is responsible for managing all tasks on the server side of the SaaS app is a Backed Developer. He/She is responsible for ensuring the app functions as planned using scripting languages.

Frondend Development Personal

It is a job position that works on the client side, transforming the design into code using Javascript or any other language to create frameworks.

Quality Assurance Manager

It is a job for a person who tests the SaaS software for defects, bugs, and issues and reports them to be fixed by the team.

The number of team members can vary based on the project size and development budget. You may need other specialists or technical staff as well. In addition, if you are leaning towards methodology DevOps for SaaS projects, you will also need a DevOps engineer.

How to Build a SaaS App From Scratch

1. Market analysis – validate your idea

The long-term success of your product depends on good market research, which gives you an insight into your competitors and the demands of your potential clients. This research will give you validation and help you avoid repeating the mistakes of those who failed. You need to make sure your target customers are willing to pay for your product and that your offer meets their needs. Make sure your business model gives them clear and recurring benefits and is attractive to a large audience.

2. Discuss the SaaS product requirements

SaaS solutions have some things in common, so a clear plan of customization, integration options and security is essential. In a SaaS model, it is crucial to ensure maximum security as it is the foundation of a good solution. Consumers’ requirements are constantly evolving so you should be able to adjust to them. Your software should also be built in such a way to handle the increasing amount of users without slowing down.

3. Define the MVP

Having a Minimum Viable Product means figuring out what are the basic core features that will bring value to your customers with minimal costs from your side. An MVP is what the early testers will try out and what will be developed into the final product.

An easy way to define the minimum viable product is to answer questions like what is your user persona, what are the actions the users have in order to solve their problems and what solutions you can propose.

4. Choose your pricing model

There are different pricing models for SaaS solutions that can greatly influence your product’s popularity. The pricing strategy should be adjusted to your target users’ needs.

  • usage-based pricing – when users pay based on the amount of usage
  • pricing per feature – when you offer different sets of features
  • freemium – free version with limited features with the ability to upgrade
  • pricing per active user – when you charge per user for the entire product
  • flat rate – when you offer the entire product or bundle of features under one price, paid on a monthly or yearly basis

It is common for SaaS products to be offered with an initial low price, free trial or promotional prices.

5. Technical aspects

This is the point where you need to determine how your Saas solution will be built. You should talk to professionals who will help you define which programming language, tools and platforms are required to create your SaaS product. It is important to have in mind both the long-term product and the MVP.

6. Find and create a development team

Now it is time to find or create a development team that will take care of everything in SaaS development process. Here you can choose to either create a team out of people in your company (providing you have them) or outsource the development fully or partially. Outsourcing to a fully-fledged team will give you lots of advantages and will allow you to focus on business processes like marketing.

7. Know your budget

After all the steps, by this point, you should have an idea of how much the SaaS application development will cost you. Take into account the time needed to create your product and the time needed to start selling. Plan your budget carefully, remembering possible changes and delays. It is better to think about the worst-case scenario and be surprised than the other way around.

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