SaaS implementation is no longer a specialized option. Decision makers in the IT industry now consider SaaS mainstream, possibly basing this observation on the growth rate for adoption being in the double-digits. Demand for applications shows no signs of decreasing, especially with benefits such as low upfront costs, acceptance by end users, faster deployment, and frequent upgrades.
Easily identifiable are four strategies that businesses can capitalize on to take advantage of this application phenomenon. Carefully considering the following strategies will ensure you are informed after you have made the decision to integrate SaaS implementation into your business.
Four Strategies to Capitalize on SaaS Implementation
Beyond the Surface Pricing
Organizations or businesses which are evaluating the various deployment options must weigh traditional onsite solutions and SaaS against more extensive criteria than cost savings alone. Considering the differences in economic drivers and business models used, more important than cost trade-off is risk and flexibility. Understand that the SaaS total costs must go deeper than just the price tag. Equal consideration should be given to factors such as:
- Premium support services
- Storage capacity fees
- Industry-specific functionality
- Mobile system access
- User training expenses
- Professional service fees
- Internal labor implementation costs
- Software licensing fees
Buyers who are not accustomed to sourcing solutions or IT professionals unfamiliar with judging technical aspects of SaaS implementation may find it difficult to determine what should be included in a contract. With these potential knowledge gaps, contracts may not include certain essential elements.
When businesses purchase directly from SaaS vendors, the majority rely on a “best efforts agreement” as opposed to a formal service level agreement. There is little recourse for purchasers if specific critical points are not written down. To avoid potential contract risks, keep the following in mind:
- Service outages: A typical guaranteed uptime of 99.5 percent is standard in most service level agreements. However, it is not typical to include planned maintenance outages. Tracking the outages to request appropriate credits will help offset the costs.
- Disaster Recovery: All vendors talk positively regarding their capabilities for disaster recovery and security. Before signing the contract, ensure it contains exact information on disaster recovery clauses.
- Hidden costs: Costs to the overall deployment increase on the application along with increases in the transactions and data. Check the contract for price-increase protection.
Correct Implementation Approach
Generally speaking, customization is more limited with SaaS than with on-premise choices, but is easier overall. Sound practices must be followed whether the SaaS implementation and administration is done by a third-party, the vendor, or in-house. Practices to keep in mind include:
- Define objectives
- Define the timeline
- Construct a team
- Configure for relevance to users
Correct Procedures for Data Security
The management of data security is a pressing concern for business owners. To assist with data protection, insist on vendors giving details regarding how data is protected, capabilities for recovery, and data center security levels. Have access rights and roles clearly defined in the contract. In addition, establish exit and conversion blueprints, and vendor data integration.
A Final Consideration
Anticipate that somewhere in the future your chosen vendor may undergo an ownership change. Before deciding on SaaS implementation, remember that the vendor potentially could become part of a different company.