Businesses switched from on-premises to SaaS apps after the pandemic. Employees are utilizing SaaS applications due to their accessibility. SaaS has the ability to effectively alter an organization’s operations. It assists in integrating and automating corporate operations. Additionally, give workers a wider range of tools to boost productivity.
Choosing the best SaaS vendor for your organization has grown more difficult because so many SaaS suppliers provide SaaS apps. Security presents additional difficulties when choosing a SaaS vendor. Businesses must verify that the SaaS vendor complies with and upholds industry-standard security standards.
Businesses must look at the primary criteria for security and ensure that SaaS vendors meet suitable security measures. As such, the SaaS vendors will have access to critical information about the business processes.
Therefore, you need to consider the security factors such as data breaches, non-compliance, etc., to eliminate the risks associated with SaaS applications.
Before selecting a secure SaaS vendor for your organization, let us discuss what you should consider.
1. Verify vendor’s alignment with security frameworks and certifications in place
A SaaS vendor can demonstrate compliance certification and alignment with the security framework, such as SOC 2, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, GDPR, and more. In addition, it helps the organization gain trust that vendors have robust security practices in place.
Compliance guidelines depend on various regulatory bodies specific to the industry or geographical regions. For example, a health-related company using SaaS apps must comply with the HIPAA framework. This framework will ensure that personal data related to health will remain secure.
So before purchasing any SaaS product, the organization must ensure that the vendor complies with the required standards or regulations and avoid security and compliance risk.
SaaS vendors can provide the business with self-assessment or independent audit reports to certify their compliance. This compliance report helps you gain accurate information regarding the compliance regulations followed by SaaS vendors.
You should choose SaaS vendors who comply with industry standards and align their business with the required security framework. Frameworks and standards help sort vendors’ lists and mitigate security risks. Further, ensure that the SaaS vendor has the required compliance certifications in place. This will help you stay compliant and make your organization audit ready.
2. Check for vendor’s security policies and the practices they follow
Organizations need to check vendors’ security policies before choosing a SaaS vendor to ensure they meet the business security requirements. When businesses use SaaS apps, the data associated with them is accessible to the SaaS vendors. This brings security and privacy concerns that require planning.
Data security is a crucial aspect of SaaS security checklists. You must ensure that the database and SaaS apps are protected from cyberattacks and data breaches. SaaS vendors’ security policies can ensure the safety of the business from any potential risks.
Moreover, access control is an essential component of data security. It can work efficiently only when authorized employees get access to the sensitive data with proper precaution, which ensures the safety of data and the organization.
On the other hand, if organizations come across unauthorized access, then it can lead to sensitive data loss. This will impact the reputation of the organization. For this reason, SaaS vendors must follow best practices to meet their security policies, like providing practical solutions to retrieve lost data, restrict access, etc. This will help the businesses trust the vendor’s security policies.
Additionally, reliable SaaS vendors practice periodic security audits to evaluate their security policies and improve their practices accordingly.
3. Review the SaaS vendor’s third-party security
Data breach has become an everyday activity in the SaaS world. In a decentralized organization, using SaaS apps can lead to security and compliance risks such as data breaches, cyberattacks, etc.. Still, the primary reason that leads to data breaches is SaaS vendors’ third-party security risks.
Businesses must ensure that SaaS vendors take precautionary measures to avoid any security risks. Before choosing a SaaS vendor for your organization, you should review the SaaS vendor’s third-party security to prevent any data breaches, especially those that will have access to your company’s sensitive information.
A SaaS vendor’s primary responsibility is to protect their client’s sensitive information. But several vendors need to follow the basic rules, and violating these rules can give rise to security data breach incidents and risks.
To be secure and choose the appropriate SaaS vendor, select the vendor who will ensure the security of the third-party partners. These partners are crucial to businesses as they will have access to your organization’s sensitive information, which can lead to data breaches due to mismanagement.
4. Ask for the vendor’s backup plan to run the business smoothly
In today’s SaaS environment, cybercriminals are getting active. They can break any authentication system to access sensitive information as needed. Incidents like malicious activities, cyberattacks, ransomware attacks, phishing, etc., can occur anytime in the business.
For this reason, a backup plan is required. No matter how strong the security policies are, they can have loopholes. Cyber attackers take advantage of these loopholes and access the organization’s critical information in an unauthorized manner. This can lead to phishing, ransomware, and more.
While selecting a SaaS vendor, you should understand the vendor’s backup plan for incident management and help your business run smoothly. This will ensure the security of your data and eliminate any mishandling of data. Also, it will empower your IT team to focus on IT tasks to maximize the overall ROI.
Moreover, SaaS apps help to improve business productivity and continue business operations. Any hurdles can impact your business and reduce your earnings. To ensure your business continues to operate smoothly, your SaaS vendor must be ready with a backup plan if any incident occurs, even after being cautious with the security policies.
Key Questions You Should Ask When Looking For a SaaS Provider
A SaaS (Software as a Service) may be an alternative for you to explore when making changes to the way you manage the finances of your business.
Over the last few years, SaaS technology has dominated the software distribution industry, and businesses are increasingly choosing to become totally digital for a variety of reasons. But whether you choose software or a package, you must be careful to ask the proper questions when discussing your alternatives with potential vendors if you don’t want to make an expensive error.
You can find a list of some key questions to ask when looking for a SaaS supplier, so you’re prepared whenever you get a pitch.
What is the real pricing?
The vast majority of SaaS providers will include a pricing page on their website but it usually doesn’t end there. Generally, SaaS companies reach their fee by taking into consideration:
- Number of users
- Amount of data stored
- Number of transactions
- Number of users
The simplest method is to charge by the number of users (e.g.: €3 per user per month). In this case, you need to understand what constitutes a ‘user’.
Some services will charge for registered users, meaning that you’ll be charged for each person that has an account created, even if they don’t use it. Other companies will only charge you if a registered user carries out a transaction in a particular month.
There are also those who may charge a hybrid version of users and functionality, with some users having access to higher functions, paying more as a result. Rydoo, for instance, developed a revolutionary pricing model: paying for active users. This means you will only pay for employees who actively use the platform.
Some companies provide the whole system to all users. Others lock down the higher-level functions and only allow access to payment of a higher monthly subscription. Where a system stores data or documents there may be a charge for the space used.
- Amount of data stored
A good example of this would be Dropbox or Google. Both offer a free version where the user gets a data allowance but once you go over the free level, the more data you want to store, the more you pay.
- Amount of transactions
This seems to be very popular with bookkeeping systems that have a free level that allows users to carry out a certain number of transactions in a month, charging after reaching that limit.
Often, SaaS providers will use a hybrid pricing structure that will give users a package of data storage, functionality, and a number of transactions that increase at each pricing tier. See Hubspot for this kind of pricing.
The question to ask yourself is – what will this actually end up costing us?
What is your uptime SLA?
SaaS providers should be able to tell you what their expected uptime (or Service Level Agreement) is. The majority of providers of technology for finance should be able to guarantee uptime in the high 90%s and should also be able to tell you when their planned downtime is likely to be.
Do be aware that when the system is down for maintenance and upgrades it can often be based on US time, so make sure that an outage isn’t going to cause serious issues.
The question to ask yourself – can we live with that level of uptime and the downtime schedule?
How is data security handled?
Data security is really important. Remember that all of your data (and more importantly that of your clients) is going to be stored in the cloud and so security should be at the top of the agenda.
For many companies, especially if they accord with international standards such as ISO90001 or ISO27701, data security will need to be at the forefront of their thinking and must be effectively documented.
The question to ask yourself is – would I feel comfortable if this company were storing my medical data?
What migration options are available?
When you are thinking about a new system it is only right that you concentrate on how the system will operate in practice. But you do need to understand the process for getting to the point where your system is usable.
How are usernames and passwords entered? How do you migrate your existing data? How do you test that the migration process has worked accurately? If your potential provider comes back and tells you that there is no migration process then you may need to reconsider, especially if you have a lot of data that needs to be available for users.
The question to ask yourself – do I need an automated migration procedure or can I live with manually adding information?
How do you provide user & application security?
We’ve already talked about information security when the data is sitting in the cloud but how do you make sure that unauthorized users can’t access the system?
What methods does your provider have for ensuring that standard users can’t change aspects of the system that only administrators should have access to? Can you use your existing Single Sign-on (SSO) application to control access?
The question to ask yourself – is system access effectively controlled, easy to manage and easy to audit?
What happens when we move away?
There might come a time when you decide that the system you chose isn’t for you. And, for that, you need to ask your provider how you move away from it.
How do you extract the information from their system in a format that will make it easy to migrate to a new solution?
The question to ask yourself – is our data locked in so that migration is effectively impossible?
What implementation and post-implementation support is available?
One of the most pleasing aspects of a good SaaS design is when a system works with minimal setup and implementation. Admittedly, the smaller and simpler the system is then the less effort you will have to put in to get it up and running. So, if you’re looking at something a little more complex, then you may want to check out what implementation support is available.
Are there resources like manuals and datasheets, templates for uploading information, videos that show you how to carry out set up tasks and FAQs, or troubleshooting guides if something doesn’t quite work out?
Some companies will provide a dedicated implementation manager or will be able to recommend external consultants who can help but do check out the likely cost of this option. Pay attention as well to the support provided after the implementation. Will you have a point of contact in case something goes wrong? How long will it take to receive an answer?
The best SaaS providers have a suite of training and support materials that allow users to self-serve with the answers to their important questions.
The question to ask yourself – have we got enough internal resources to manage the implementation phase and how is the post-implementation support?
If you want to make sure you choose the right SaaS system then it pays to do your homework. Understanding exactly what the system does, how you implement it, and how you’ll get support are all key aspects that you need to look at.