If you’re thinking about moving to the cloud for at least some of your business needs, you’re not alone. A study by Gartner reported that by 2020, 36% of enterprises will use the cloud to support over half of their transactions.
Once you make the decision to move, you need to choose the best SaaS provider. Since this can be complicated, here are 9 factors to consider when evaluating SaaS companies.
What is SaaS?
Before getting into the details, though, it’s important to understand the SaaS meaning.
SaaS stands for Software as a Service. You might also know it as accessing a software application in the cloud.
With SaaS, software is installed and managed on remote servers and accessed through the internet. Using SaaS removes any server expenses for your company. This includes buying and maintaining hardware, as well as paying to license the software and receive support.
#1: Define SaaS Needs
Now that you know what SaaS is, you need to take one other step before looking at SaaS companies. You need to define what you expect from a SaaS provider.
As part of this, make sure you can identify any integration points with other software, what kind of response time you expect, and how many users will access the software. This information will help you find the right provider.
One of the most important considerations when moving to SaaS is to make sure the cloud application can effectively integrate with your in-house software.
A good global SaaS provider will support those integration points, but you should still study the options carefully. Ask if any additional development or customization will be required to get the applications working together. You’ll also want to find out if the integration is an extra cost.
Remember that the end goal is to make sure your users can navigate between the SaaS product and other applications without trouble. A clunky interface will reduce productivity, and you’ll lose some of the gains of moving to SaaS.
#3: Browser Fit
A common misconception with going to SaaS is that you don’t need to worry about how you’ll access the software. Since it’s online, you should just be able to have an internet connection and log in.
To some degree that’s true, but your browser choice makes a difference. You’ll want to find out if the SaaS solution requires use of a specific browser, and if you’ll experience any difference in functionality by using something else.
For example, Microsoft Internet Explorer might behave very differently than Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Some functions might not work at all on one browser, especially if you’re using an older version.
You should also think about mobile devices. While not all applications work as well from a phone or tablet, many people use those devices to get online these days. If this is something your users will be doing, you want to make sure that your SaaS provider supports mobile options.
Another factor to consider is if the SaaS solution will be able to scale with you as your company grows.
Unlike running your software in-house, you don’t need to think about how many servers to buy or maintain. Even so, you should still make sure to ask the SaaS provider about support for growth, especially from a pricing perspective.
Moving to SaaS has many benefits, but it also means you’re relying on the provider to keep your business up and running. When you’re evaluating a company’s reliability, consider their past SaaS sales and how well they’ve performed.
One option is to look at case studies and testimonials. These will give you a good starting point.
Even better, though, is to find some of their current customers who are in a similar industry as you, and preferably about the same size. See if you can talk to them so you can make sure the vendor has proven they can handle your expected use cases.
#6: Server Failure
No one likes to think about servers failing, but it can happen. Instead of hoping that you won’t suffer from this, find out what will happen in the event of a disruption to your service.
Many SaaS companies have redundancy plans in place, with a backup strategy. Get the details about this to confirm whether it meets your needs.
If it doesn’t, you could also explore the option of creating your own backup. It’s not as ideal, but at least you’d be covered in the event of an emergency.
Another thing to remember with SaaS is how differently the pricing works. Instead of paying a single fee up-front, you pay over time.
Additionally, you should make sure you won’t encounter any unexpected fees. Some of the pricing models for SaaS have variable prices based on number of users, how much bandwidth you’re using, and more.
It’s worth asking to see if you can get any discounts with multi-year contracts. If your company is a nonprofit, you may also be able to get special pricing options. Cover all the bases to get the most value.
#8: Service Level Agreement
With a SaaS solution, you’ll also have a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This describes in detail what services the provider will cover. It might include response time when you contact them, and what penalties they might incur if they don’t meet the expectations.
Spend as much time as you need reviewing the SLA to confirm it meets your needs and covers all the possibilities.
Finally, it’s crucial to confirm the vendor’s support process, and the quality of the support.
The best way to find out is by doing a trial. Create an account that isn’t related to your company and create a few tickets. See what kind of response you get.
Also make sure you understand the support model. Will you have to go through your own IT department first, to make sure nothing is wrong on your end? How will you communicate with the provider?
If possible, talk to an existing customer to learn about their experience of the support process. This will give you a lot of information with real-world examples.
Finding the Best SaaS Companies
Looking at SaaS companies to find the right provider involves many steps. If you go through them all, though, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of moving to the cloud.
Interested in exploring options for your SaaS solution? Contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you get started.