A do-it-yourself guide to SaaS-ing up your business
ACCORDING to a report by Gartner in October last year, revenues from Software as a Service (SaaS) were expected to reach US$ 58.6 billion in 2017, and touch US$ 71.2 billion in 2018.
It pointed out that the acceleration in SaaS adoption was a result of providers delivering nearly all application functional extensions and add-ons as a services – which was an appealing proposition because SaaS solutions are engineered to be more purpose-built and deliver better business outcomes than traditional software.
For those that are new to SaaS, it’s essentially the use of software that’s hosted on a cloud, usually with a pay-as-you-go license. Most often, such software can be accessed directly via a web browser and is also optimized for mobile.
Using SaaS-powered applications for your enterprise needs such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource management (ERP), human relations (HR), and finance not only saves you the large, down-payment required for the one-time purchase of such software but also usually relieves you of the maintenance costs associated with applying security patches and upgrades from time to time.
Some of the most common enterprise-grade SaaS providers include Salesforce, Microsoft, Adobe, and Google, although there are several other popular SaaS vendors such as Slack, Intuit, Domo, FreshBooks, ZenDesk, Marketo, DocuSign, and Twilio that are as popular with SMEs as they are with large-scale enterprises.
Obviously, SaaS isn’t a new concept and there’s a whole range of SaaS-based applications out there that’s suited to every kind of user. Some, like Slack and Intuit have a subscription charge per user that seems affordable to just about anybody, while those from the stables of Salesforce and Marketo, for example, might seem like a little steep for budding entrepreneurs in the process of setting up their new business.
However, what’s interesting is that SaaS is a solution that just about anybody can start using, almost immediately – and without disrupting business as usual (BAU). This is crucial, especially for businesses that are customer-centric and seek to avoid glitches in the beautiful customer experience that has earned them a reputation and an edge in the market.
So, how do SMEs adopt SaaS?
Moving to the cloud, as Amazon suggested in one of its blogposts, can be a ‘minimally invasive’ process. There’s a few questions that you need to ask about your business and a few decisions you need to take, and viola, you’ll be on your way to becoming a SaaS-powered business in no time.
The process is usually much simpler for SMEs, even if they’ve been operating for decades, compared to large-scale enterprises. It’s because smaller businesses tend to use out=of-the-box applications instead of custom-built ones. This makes moving to the cloud as simple as exporting the data and importing it into the cloud-based SaaS application, in some cases.
Consider moving your accounting software to the cloud for example. If you’ve been using Intuit Quickbooks foe example, you can simply migrate everything to the cloud with just a few clicks, since your out-of-the-box application vendor has upgraded and expanded its offerings. If you used another software on the other hand, you might need to export your data into comma separated value (CSV) files, set up your master accounts on the cloud, import your data, and then get set-up for more digitally-smart features offered by the cloud-based package.
While there’s no silver bullet to migrating your portfolio of business applications to SaaS-based solutions, the trick is to explore what’s out there, what you need most, what you can afford, and then chalk out a plan to migrate that’s least disruptive.
Getting rid of the creative software on your desktop for example is as simple as replacing your existing desktop installation with software from the Adobe Creative Cloud. Changing your CRM or ERP on the other hand might be a tad more difficult.
Finally, you could also enlist the help of specialists. There are several firms out there that have built a business of helping clients set up and move to the cloud.
WhoopSaaS for example, is one such firm in Texas, USA, founded by Michael J. MacDonald who spoke to Tech Wire Asia about the one thing that makes SaaS a success:
“The concept of SaaS has been around for decades, it disrupts the way businesses adopt, service and support software, put simply. The subscription economy by design, puts the provider in a position where adoption & customer service are just as important to them, as to the customer. However, one major tip around USER adoption, for just about any SaaS platform customers can own, is what I call ‘leading by example’. Depending on the SaaS platform and purpose, If the management team demonstrates utilization, the broader team will usually follow.”
So, there you go. If you’re thinking about making this the year your business adopts SaaS, you’ve got plenty of time to draw up a plan and get started.