SaaS For Startups: 6 Things Every CEO Should Know
SaaS packages have evolved from large enterprise commodities to must-have solutions for businesses of all sizes. Once reserved for large corporate infrastructures, the evolution in cloud technology and the BYOD trends have changed how businesses use and license out SaaS platforms. That being said, with all of the choices out there, it can be difficult to choose exactly which service platform is really the most efficient and cost-effective for a small startup.
For startup CEOs, it’s your job to weigh the cost of investments in hopes they’ll support the future of your business. Here are the six major components to consider when you’re shopping for your SaaS provider.
The Provider Must Implement Efficiently
The importance of a provider to install the software quickly and efficiently cannot be emphasized enough. If a provider is slow in installation, it’s likely his product will mirror that inefficiency. Employees should be able to use the software in a short period of time, so that workflow isn’t hindered. The system should be cross-compatible with multiple operating systems like Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. It should also support all major web browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.
Ask your potential provider about time estimates for installation and compatibility with these operating systems and web browsers. If the provider doesn’t seem confident about a quick and simple operation, then continue looking for another SaaS provider.
The Software Should be Customizable
The SaaS platform you’re looking at should allow for specific customizations based on your audience and business needs. Your provider should be able to mold their software according to your business requirements to enhance workflow and compliance. If the provider is unable to do this, you should continue to shop around. There are SaaS platforms available that will meet all of your business needs, and they’ll allow you to keep up with the advancing business technology market.
The Application Must Have Usable Features
You should remember that buying SaaS is a business investment, and just like all the other investments you’ll be making as a startup CEO, you want to get your money’s worth in the long-run, even if that means a steep cost up front. If you choose a provider that offers simple, scaled-down applications because they’re cheaper, you’ll end up spending more money on software in the end. You’ll also spend more money on fixing the simple bugs in the software, and you’ll lose money on software lag and lack of efficiency.
An important feature, as well, is the SaaS platform’s mobile scalability. Employees should be able to access the software in the cloud via any mobile service securely and easily in order to maximize productivity. Whether it’s a tablet, or a T-mobile cell phone, the platform you choose must flexible to accommodate both your clients’ and employees’ needs
The Software Must Have Inter-operating Applications
SaaS providers should have several applications that work with one another so your business operations will run efficiently. Not only does it show that the provider can handle multiple software programs, it also creates more cohesive operations for your business. The provider you choose should only use powerful, large-scale servers, as well. These will help to enhance cloud-based infrastructure so that computers don’t lag. Be sure to research what your provider’s software can handle before you buy it.
Also, see if the company has a sandbox trial version. This is a watered-down version of the company’s SaaS that has minimal customization features. However, you’ll be able to stress-test the software, find out what you can implement with it, and be able to test features. If your provider offers this version, definitely test it out before you sign a contract with them or buy a membership.
The Software Must Support a Secure Cloud Infrastructure
Because SaaS operates via the Web, it’s crucial that the software supports a secure cloud infrastructure so that you can avoid potential security threats and data breaches. You’ll need it to protect and backup your valuable and private information including social security numbers, phone numbers, addresses, and confidential documents. With a quality cloud infrastructure, your employees will be able to use the software safely and remotely so they can work from home, or while on business trips.
The Provider Must Have Longevity
Research the company you’re thinking of going with. Do they have a good track record? Have they been out for a while? Knowing a company has a good reputation will give you better insight into your business with them. It will also tell you if they have endurance and will be able to keep up with changing technology.
You don’t want to start a company who invests in failing products and has to deal with the headache of malfunctioning software. Follow these steps to make sure you’re buying the most efficient and fitting SaaS for your business. It needs to be customizable and simple so that everyone who works for you can operate it easily. What have your experiences been with SaaS?
By Miles Young
Miles Young is a freelance writer, tech geek and world traveler. He specializes in business, communication and mobile technologies. Follow him @MrMilesYoung on Twitter.