The days of traditional software installations are rapidly coming to an end. Instead of paying for a piece of software, installing it on the office computer and configuring it locally, a growing number of businesses are switching to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, in which they “rent” software on a monthly or yearly basis – think Netflix or Spotify, except on the enterprise level.
SaaS brings some distinct advantages over traditional, locally installed software. Since SaaS programs run in the cloud, on powerful remote machines, they’re not limited by the storage and processing limits of the old office computer. This can also help simplify IT budgets, since the department can budget for a set of consistent monthly SaaS subscriptions instead of trying to budget for all sorts of unpredictable hardware and software costs.
Still, switching over to subscription-based cloud software can take some consideration and planning. Here are the key points to ponder as you weigh up the benefits of SaaS.
Purchasing an initial subscription to SaaS certainly carries an up-front cost, but the cost is often lower than that of a traditional software license. And while the costs of SaaS will continue to accrue each month, they are predictable and reasonable; plus – unlike a purchase of traditional on-premises software – your monthly subscription will also allow you to benefit from the software server’s upgrades in speed, power and other new features you would otherwise have to pay for locally.
SaaS also delivers value by shortening the implementation time for many types of projects. It effectively eliminates IT lead time, since your staff won’t have to spend valuable hours provisioning the local environment and deploying software. This means your team can get to work immediately, as soon as you purchase the subscription and log on. Most SaaS companies also provide dedicated teams of support experts, highly-trained to assist you with every aspect of the software and to help your team troubleshoot any challenges they encounter.
But perhaps the greatest value of SaaS lies in its ability to vastly upgrade your business’s capabilities. One of the most hotly-discussed aspects of SaaS is that it provides small and medium businesses with the kinds of tools, technologies and processing power once reserved exclusively for enterprise-level organisations. In other words, SaaS levels the playing field between you and your largest national (and international) competitors, which means if you deliver better service than those competitors do, you will be in a position to take over large chunks of their markets.
Integration, scaling and security have always posed some of the greatest challenges in working with traditional on-premises software. Once you have purchased and installed a local piece of software, there is no guarantee that older or newer computers will be able to read that software’s data, or that everyone in your organisation will store that data securely and back it up consistently. And when the time comes to scale up, the complexity of all those problems will only multiply.
While the initial transition to SaaS can pose some integration challenges, that extra up-front work is well worth the long-term benefits. Once your data is ported over from legacy systems to cloud-based services, you will know that your data is backed up and securely stored in a format that will continue to be compatible with many other SaaS offerings. In fact, many SaaS vendors use SSAE 16 (SAS 70) audit controls to make sure your data is always stored and transmitted with government-level security. Can your office IT department make that same guarantee?
Most cloud-based software platforms come pre-loaded to work seamlessly with the most common digital tools in your industry. And since it is in the vendor’s best interest to stay relevant, they will make sure your data remains compatible with the latest versions of popular programs. Once all your data is on the cloud you can say goodbye to the days of hiring a temp worker to re-enter old data from legacy systems onto new computers.
SaaS vendors also plan ahead when it comes to integration and scaling. Many continue to expand their integration capabilities over time, adding even more tools to their list of seamless integration options. When they start to max out their storage and processing capabilities, they upgrade their machines to meet the demand, while you just pay the same steady monthly subscription fee.
Since SaaS vendors face heavy competition, they make a point of providing software that is as easy as possible to use and configure. Many even offer the option to try out the software for a limited time before you make a purchase, so you can see for yourself what you will be subscribing to. While not all SaaS programs offer as much ability to poke around “under the hood” as traditional on-premises software does, they make up for that core simplicity with a wide variety of integration options and add-ons.
SaaS tools typically come pre-loaded with examples, best practices and even detailed walkthroughs. Once your team learns the basic interface of a SaaS program, they will always have expert support just a click away. That means you won’t lose costly hours of project time while a team member waits for help from a local IT worker. Even new features and updates typically come with built-in guides and step-by-step assistance – all rolled out at the same time, across every computer on your subscription.
When considering a switch from traditional on-premises software to SaaS, be sure to factor the full range of costs into your calculations. Local software may initially appear to cost less, until you include the salaries of in-house IT staff, the costs of servers and hardware upgrades, storage media for backups and hours spent trying to get the data to integrate across old and new systems. Once you weigh up all these factors, SaaS typically works out to be far more cost-effective – especially over the long term – than on-premises software and hardware would be.
For all of these reasons – and many more – cloud-based electronic identity gateway SignWise Services, are a crucial component of any modern human resources department for a company of any size.
POST IS WRITTEN BY
founder @SignWise Services and electronic identity expert
I have primarily worked as an R&D visionary and adviser for PKI-based authentication, eSigning, eSignature validation and eAuthorization services. I was part of the team that worked on the Estonian electronic identity for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, creating service portals for local authorities and annual electronic reports submission system for the e-Business Registry – winning the Best e-Government Solution award at the World Summit Award in 2011.
Learn more about electronic identity and document signing trends and how you can get the support for your business by contacting SignWise Services team now.