An essential step that can have a big impact on the productivity and performance of your company is the evaluation of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product. Given the variety of SaaS options on the market, it is crucial to thoroughly evaluate a product before adoption to make sure it matches your unique demands, objectives, and financial constraints.
A thorough assessment is required in order to make an informed choice, covering everything from functionality and user experience to security and customer support.
This article will arm you with the knowledge and resources to completely and confidently evaluate a SaaS product, whether you are a business leader looking to optimize your operations or an individual looking for the proper tool to increase your productivity.
A thorough examination is essential to choosing a solution that not only satisfies your immediate needs but also coincides with your long-term goals as the SaaS sector continues to innovate and evolve.
So let’s explore the realm of SaaS product evaluation and learn how to make smart, strategic judgments that can advance your company.
What Is a SaaS?
The acronym SaaS stands for “Software as a Service.” Software applications are supplied over the internet as a service under this cloud computing architecture. Users can access the application through a web browser, often on a subscription basis, rather than downloading and installing software on individual machines or servers.
In the SaaS model, the software provider manages the infrastructure, updates, and security while also hosting and maintaining the application. The program is very accessible and practical because it can be used from any device with an internet connection. Users no longer need to manage software installation, upkeep, and updates independently thanks to this.
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools, project management software, email services, office productivity suites, video conferencing platforms, and many more web-based applications are some typical examples of SaaS applications.
Simple scalability, cost effectiveness (customers pay for what they use via a subscription basis), automatic upgrades, and the flexibility to access software from any location with internet connectivity are all advantages of SaaS.
It is becoming a well-liked option for companies and people looking for adaptable and effective software solutions without having to worry about infrastructure management and upkeep.
How Do I Evaluate a SaaS Solution?
A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product evaluation is a crucial procedure that needs thorough thought and analysis. Making the appropriate decision can have a big impact on the success, productivity, and general efficiency of your business given the wide range of SaaS solutions that are currently accessible.
A thorough examination is necessary to make sure the SaaS product fits your unique demands, objectives, and budget, whether you’re a business owner trying to optimize operations or an individual seeking tools to increase productivity.
We will arm you with the information and resources you need to completely and confidently evaluate a SaaS solution, covering everything from functionality and user experience to security and customer service.
1. What are the capabilities of the system?
SaaS vendors love to position themselves as an all-in-one solution. You see this offered in many popular sales and marketing programs such as:
- 17 Hats
Some SaaS vendors do a better job of delivering on this all-in-one promise than others. Your job is to evaluate what you need, what you’ll use, and what the software does well. Email marketing may mean sending outgoing emails only – or it may mean advanced marketing automation. The details can get hidden in the fine print.
It can be very easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of the software or to make assumptions about what a feature means, only to find out later that the software you just purchased is missing a key function needed for day-to-day functioning.
2. What’s included at each pricing tier?
We hate to see clients run into a “that costs extra” situation, where they can’t get the functionality they need unless they spend more money to buy upper-tier licenses. Unfortunately, it’s common for marketing information to be unclear, often because the software is being consistently improved.
Microsoft Office 365 is a great example of the need to understand licensing limitations. You may read online that you can integrate VOIP calling functionality into Office 365, not realizing that capability only exists if you buy a certain license type. A thorough evaluation and advice of an IT professional is helpful when trying to determine licensing needs.
3. How do you know your data won’t be hacked?
Major vendors like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have multiple levels of security in place that is continually and extensively tested to thwart cybercriminal activity. Studies have repeatedly shown that – despite the increase in cyber security breaches – your data is actually much safer in a cloud-based SaaS solution than it is on a physical server in your office.
Read Also: What is SaaS Data Protection?
If you’re working with a smaller SaaS vendor, you need to ask about their data security policies. In addition, your company needs to take steps to create and follow IT policy and procedure best practices. The best lock in the world won’t keep criminals out if you leave the door wide open.
As the saying goes, “If the software is free, you are the product.” Many social media sites are monetized through advertising. In asking this question, your job is to understand how they will use the information stored on their servers, either in aggregate or through targeted marketing.
5. How can you ensure the SaaS vendor won’t lose your data?
What are their backup and recovery policies? Do they offer a service level agreement with an up-time guarantee?
Technology start-ups are particularly vulnerable to data loss. They may be cash-crunched and cutting corners to put all their time and energy into feature enhancements to gain new customers. Only when tragedy strikes – a hurricane, fire, flood or burglary – do they realize that their backup process failed – or that it will take weeks to get back up and running on a new server. There are countless stories of software companies that have vanished overnight, leaving their customers without critical accounting, customer or sales data.
With so many readily available, and affordable cloud-hosting backup solutions available, data loss is inexcusable. Don’t let a SaaS vendor’s mistake cost you your business.
6. How easy is it to setup the new system?
Moving to a new software system usually isn’t as simple as just downloading your existing records and then re-uploading the data into the new system.
- What needs to be done to clean up existing data before it’s imported into the new system? Migrating to a new software program presents a great opportunity to clean out old and unnecessary information. Do you need to be able to access historical information? If so, how will you accomplish that goal?
- What new opportunities exist with this software that’s weren’t possible in the past? Where do you need to change your procedures to capitalize on your technology investment?
- What decisions need to be made up front that will be hard (or impossible) to change later?
- Who will do the setup? Can you setup the system on your own? Does the SaaS vendor or its partners offer technology consulting services to help get the system properly configured?
7. How easy is it for users to learn the system?
User adoption is critical – yet training for new software is often overlooked. Software companies go to great lengths to make their software easy to use, and especially to look easy in a demo. The software may in fact be easy to use – once you know where to look.
- Naming conventions may be different. What’s an account vs. a customer? What’s a lead vs. a list?
- Functions may be hidden in unexpected places. If you’ve been using QuickBooks forever, switching to FreshBooks or Wave may leaving you scratching your head on where to find features that you know must exist, but they’re not on the page where you’d expect to find them.
- The software is always evolving. As updates are published, how are new features communicated to users? Do they send out emails, create walk-throughs, or expect you to regularly visit their user forum?
- Is onboarding available? Many SaaS vendors offer a series of videos and walk-throughs to orient new users to the system.
8. Is software customer support included? What types?
Software support can be free or paid; self-service or on-demand. Before you become a customer, ask about customer support options like:
- Live chat
- Help “More Info” Icons within the software itself
- Phone support
- Support hours (Is it 24/7/365? Is it OK if it’s not?)
- Blogs and forums
- Help desk ticketing
- Facebook community pages
- Vendor or partner consulting services
9. Can we connect this software program to other software systems? Can we extend or customize the software?
In a prior post, we shared how important it is to select small business software with API Integration. Small business data silos create problems because it’s so easy to lose sight of the “truth” and only see one aspect of the business. Ask if the software works natively with Zapier, PieSync or other integration tools. Look and see if they have software partners that extend the functionality of this solution.
10. What happens if I leave?
Can I take my data with me? How can I download it? You don’t want to spend years and years building your business online, only have to have it disappear. Even social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter provide you with options to download your history.
Any SaaS solution you evaluate should make it easy to leave – and allow you to take your data with you
Why Should I Start a SaaS Business?
Among the many businesses that may be started today, a SaaS (Software as a Service) company stands out as an appealing choice. Here are a few reasons why you should think about entering the world of SaaS. SaaS has revolutionized how companies and people access and use software.
1. Thriving Market Demand.
The demand for SaaS solutions has been skyrocketing, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Organizations of all sizes across various industries are turning to SaaS for its cost-effectiveness, ease of implementation, and scalability.
Businesses are seeking solutions that can streamline their processes, boost productivity, and enhance customer experiences. As a SaaS entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to tap into this thriving market demand and provide innovative solutions that address real-world challenges.
2. Recurring Revenue Model.
One of the most attractive aspects of running a SaaS business is the recurring revenue model. Instead of relying solely on one-time sales, SaaS companies generate revenue through subscriptions, typically billed monthly or annually.
This steady and predictable income stream allows you to plan and invest for the future, making it easier to manage cash flow and invest in product development and marketing initiatives.
3. Low Entry Barrier.
Compared to traditional software businesses, starting a SaaS venture has a relatively low entry barrier. With cloud infrastructure readily available, you can build and deploy your software without the need for significant upfront investments in hardware or infrastructure.
Additionally, modern development tools and platforms make it easier for even non-technical entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life and launch a SaaS product.
4. Global Reach and Scalability.
The internet has connected the world like never before, and SaaS businesses can leverage this connectivity to reach a global audience. With a well-designed product and effective marketing strategies, you can attract customers from different countries and time zones.
Moreover, the scalable nature of SaaS allows you to cater to a growing user base without having to worry about the constraints of physical infrastructure.
5. Continuous Improvement and Customer Feedback.
SaaS products are not stagnant; they evolve with the needs of their users. Customer feedback plays a crucial role in this continuous improvement cycle. SaaS entrepreneurs can closely engage with their user base, gathering valuable insights and identifying pain points to address in subsequent updates.
This iterative approach fosters customer loyalty and ensures that your product remains relevant and competitive in the market.