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Expert's Angle: Is SaaS Right for Your Company?

Hosted solutions, also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), enable software to be delivered over the Internet and its popularity and benefits are well documented. Research confirms that over 90% of SaaS users are satisfied with their solutions. SaaS offers an attractive alternative for companies who need the functionality of an enterprise solution, scalability to meet growing needs, and consistent, predictable operational expenses.

SaaS has been available for over ten years. Now that concerns over security have been mitigated, businesses are placing the burden of deploying and maintaining software on the vendor via hosted solutions. Many companies use multiple SaaS services with the majority falling in the hosting and computing category, followed closely by storage needs. Hosted solutions allow small businesses to be competitive without technology holding them back. Use the following guidelines to help determine if SaaS is right for your company.

Check Your Budget

Before deciding on any software solution, take into account all aspects of in-house installations and compare costs and benefits to a hosted application. After initial purchase, there are associated fees with an in-house installation involving:

  • Licensing
  • Customization
  • Development
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance
  • Monitoring
  • Support
  • Upgrades

These fees can add costs beyond budget limitations of small to mid-size companies. Companies are investing in SaaS at double-digit rates because of the low cost of implementation.

Do You Need to Create New Business Opportunities?

One major advantage of SaaS is that it allows you to focus on managing your business and leave the IT infrastructure to your vendor. Critical projects can be deployed much faster without waiting on your IT department. Most SaaS applications address project requirements in less time than traditional custom software applications. This is especially valuable when you need to create a specialized application for a new customer or handle increased internal production.

The simplicity and speed offered by SaaS allows you to turn many business ideas into applications that allow for:

  • Expansion into new markets
  • Unique offerings
  • Better service to your existing customer base

The result is cost savings, increased opportunities, improved customer service, and greater flexibility. Investment dollars are spent on new business opportunities rather than IT infrastructure.

Benefits of SaaS Features

Before investing in SaaS technology, it is advantageous to ensure you are getting features that will truly help your business and save you money. The following is a list of features that should be included with your hosted software.

  • Best in class forecasting and scheduling software
    Whether hosted or premise-based, forecasting and scheduling software are the most important features of your investment dollars and provide the most return on investment. Without accurate forecasting, you will never achieve your desired service levels.
  • Pricing fluctuations to match seasonal trends
    Your pricing should be based on number of agents being scheduled; otherwise, you are not experiencing cost savings.
  • Each customer has their own separate and unique database
    Software is not multi-tenanted (multiple customers using a shared data model). For example, if customer “A” experiences a security breach, software problems, or database issues, other customers are not affected. Additionally, upgrades can be performed independently and hot fixes can be applied to the affected customer.
  • Gold standard equipment
    There is no single point of failure as redundancy is built-in at every level (power, network, servers).
  • Test environments can be configured
  • Advanced security features (one of the most important features of SaaS)
    The hosted facility is physically hardened. The firewall encompasses gold standard IPS inspection. If your business deals with Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, PCI and other industry or governmental compliance requirements, you need SAS 70 Type II level of security. This is especially important for businesses in financial services, pharmaceutical or healthcare industries, or anyone accepting credit cards over the Internet.
  • This superior level of security ensures that:
    -only authorized employees and customers are granted access to the data center
    -mechanical and electrical failures will not result in an outage
    -smoke detection, cooling, and power are continuously monitored, inspected, and serviced to ensure effective operation
    -online connections perform optimally.
  • Advanced routing technology
  • Network has multiple tier 1 providers
    If your primary carrier fails, service is automatically transferred to another provider so your business is not affected.
  • Performance is monitored, hardware is added as necessary
  • Bandwidth is monitored, capacity is added as necessary

With SaaS it is possible to invest in a software solution that grows as you grow with low cost implementation, saves money and eliminates the stress of maintaining IT infrastructure, allows you to explore new ways of creating unique offerings for existing and new customers, and feel confident that you are meeting your service level goals.