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Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software delivery model where a third-party vendor hosts systems and offers them to customers over the Internet. SaaS offers benefits such as easy accessibility, scalable usage, automatic updates, and flexible payments. If you are looking to select a suitable SaaS app for your company, you have come to the right place. This guide provides you useful tips on how to go about the selection process and choose the best option from a wide range of business software alternatives.
A good way to start your search for the right software is by signing up for the free trial plans of popular apps and evaluate your software alternatives. This will give you a chance to try out each app’s key features at no cost and gauge how it can help to improve your company’s efficiency and profitability.
There is also another possibility. You can instead check out some free or freemium solutions that are usually available for any SaaS category. With a free solution you can get a pretty solid initial idea on how a given type of software works and what you can expect and require from such solutions.
If you’d like to examine some useful options it’s a good idea to start with our article about Project Management Software for Free. Solutions to Consider in 2018 where we cover a wide range of popular tools that you can get without straining your budget.
There is also a great resource available for customer relations management niche in a great post CRM Software for Free. Solutions to Consider in 2018 that offers a long list of useful tools that you can check out.
There are three main categories of SaaS software:
The following are essential features of SaaS apps that you should expect from almost all business software alternatives:
Ease of Use: Top SaaS vendors offer training modules, live webinars, tutorial videos, online manuals, and customer support portal to help users get started. Leading apps have user-friendly and intuitive interfaces which make it easy to learn even complex SaaS systems like project management and business intelligence.
Collaboration: Companies can use CRM software to gather customer account details from the app’s contact module. They can discuss sale and deal issues with members from sales, marketing, supply chain, and finance teams in real time. Other popular collaboration tools are systems that give access to online directories and folders, as well as file sharing, and instant chat apps.
Application Availability: SaaS apps can be accessed on desktops, smartphones, tablets, and even smart TVs. All you need is an internet connection to access the cloud-based systems anywhere, anytime. You can do your tasks in the office, at home or even in the field.
Integration and Scalability: You can easily integrate more functions and features with your existing SaaS system. For example, a CRM solution can be integrated with an ERP or accounting application. You can do this system update instantly, remotely, and at an affordable rate.
Fast-growing businesses can benefit from SaaS applications as they can easily be configured and upgraded to keep up with growing user demand.
User Access Management and Security: SaaS administrators can control access to users depending on their role. The apps have advanced security features like flexible authentication options, application-level security, and single sign on (SSO). These security features can keep your data safe from malwares, network hackers and bad employees.
Simplified Hosting: SaaS apps are cloud-based and therefore do not need added investment for equipment or storage. Plus, the cloud providers supply the processing power needed to operate the systems.
Software on Demand: SaaS vendors offer flexible pricing packages and services that are scalable according to business needs. Different plans offer different features and the premium plans provide greater access to the software. The plans are pay-per-use which means you pay only for what you use and you can cancel your subscription at any time without paying extra. You also have the flexibility to change to a lower or higher plan as needed.
Automatic Updates: SaaS apps offer the benefit of automatic updates as they provide access to new versions of the software, often for free. This means you don’t have to worry about buying new versions of the software for upgrades.
Easy Accessibility: As mentioned earlier, cloud-based SaaS software can be accessed remotely. This means your employees can become more mobile and receive important alerts from prospects and clients even while they are away from the workplace.
Greater Customization: SaaS apps provide graphical and technical features that are fully customizable to meet business needs. The vendors offer flexible plans for various budgets and you can select a package that offers the features you need for the moment.
Mass cloud migration – Conventional storage hardware is restricting the ability of businesses to employ a mobile workforce. The amount of data stored in cloud-based SaaS apps is growing and will soon exceed storage hardware so many software alternatives will focus on that trend.
Specialized enterprise apps – Each company and industry has its own unique requirements, which means enterprises will need more than generic SaaS apps.
Personalization – As consumers become more sophisticated and demanding, they ask for personalized solutions for their exact needs. Businesses can learn more about what their customers need through big data mining, user experience testing, and market research.
Big data analytics – Cloud-based storage is becoming cheaper which makes it more affordable to store plenty of data. Companies can use big data analytics to learn more about their customer needs and make smart decisions about their organization’s growth and future.
Security – Companies need to be careful about data security when using SaaS software. You need to select a reliable third party SaaS vendor who can resolve your security concerns such as access and identity management especially from mobile devices. If your business uses multiple cloud solution, then de-authorizing an employee who leaves the company can become a hard task.
Outages – System downtime can prove disastrous if the outage lasts for a long time. So, do proper research on a vendor’s historical performance and SLA (Service Level Agreement) before entrusting your mission-critical systems to their public cloud. You can use tools such as Is It Down Right Now? and Compuware’s Outage Analyzer to track ongoing cloud downtime.
Depending on your needs you can compare various SaaS apps based on the following features to select the right system:
Feature set – Make a list of “must have” features based on your requirements and then shortlist apps that provide them.
Price – You can list the different packages offered by various vendors as well as the different plans offered by a single vendor, and then make your choice depending on your feature needs and budget.
Support – Do research on factors such as the channels offered for customer support such as phone, live chat, email and tickets, as well as the average response time of a vendor.
Self-hosted – Some SaaS apps can be hosted on your own servers. If you are concerned about data privacy and security, select a vendor that allows you to host their software on your own servers.
Reliability – Do research on the security and stability of the product. Read online reviews and browse the support forums of providers to learn about recurring issues and to gauge their reputation among users.
Reputability – Is the vendor a new startup or an established player? You can opt for a leading vendor with a proven track record or a startup that offers you the features you need and constantly upgrades the app.
Integrations – Learn about the third party integrations offered for the app. Can you link it through IFTTT or Zapier to automate your processes and integrate various internal services?
Data ownership – Find about the data ownership policy in the terms and conditions. Will it be easy for you to switch vendors and export your data easily if required?
Location – Find out about the nationality of the cloud provider and the location of their business headquarters.
Payment gateways – What payment gateways are used by vendors and how do they process payments? Providers in some countries have invoicing policies that could impact your accounting process.
Scalability – Make sure the SaaS app can scale up to meet the growing demands of your company. Some providers offer high-scale enterprise packages while others concentrate on smaller companies.
Culture fit – Would your employees enjoy working with the SaaS vendor and their support agents?
When our readers are curious about a particular software we try to make sure they also realize that there are other viable alternatives offered by other vendors. This is important, since one of our main objectives is to provide our visitors with options to reliably choose a service that will be optimized for their requirements and spending. This is the reasons you are able to always get a broad variety of alternative apps that may offer lowe pricing, unique functionalities created for specific industry or high quality client support.
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