Long ago, before SaaS, people hunted for software CDs and floppy disks. The valuable booty was installed on the computer on their own, or with support from fellow tribesmen who proudly bore the title of “computer scientist”. In severe cases, they had to invite skilled programmers to create special systems. And woe to anyone whose hardware would break – farewell to the data! But a few years ago the SaaS boom hit, and these prehistoric times became a matter of the past.
SaaS - what is it?
SaaS is a subscription-based software licensing model. SaaS stands for software as a service and also means “information as a service”. SaaS is most often a cloud-based solution, i.e. it resides on servers somewhere on the Web.
The user accesses the service in a browser or through an API. A service provider is solely responsible for providing support. In simplified terms, the SaaS model is when a customer works with a ready solution online. He pays for access and receives a predesigned tool as quickly as possible.
The principle of SaaS is similar to rental. A tenant rents a flat, and leases furniture and appliances, conveniences and the Internet. The landlord gets paid for the operation. But that’s a rather general comparison. Let’s look at how SaaS differs from other models:
▬ the model is used remotely. In this case, access can be given to several people at once. That’s why the applications are so convenient for teamwork;
▬ the software is charged regularly. If the user wishes, it is possible to automate the withdrawal once, and online banking will only remind the user of the fee each month. The subscription format is convenient because you can subscribe for six months or a year at a time;
▬ the server owner organises and maintains SaaS software development life cycle. The user is not responsible for anything – they just have to wait if there are problems with the application.
Most of the services offer a trial period. The free mode offers limited functionality. It can be used for a short time, usually 14 days. Paying for SaaS software is often much cheaper than buying and installing client-server software. SaaS applications are often more effective than stand-alone multifunctional software.
What you should consider when developing a SaaS application?
Whether it is appropriate to use this format has to be assessed based on the type of business or application. Let’s consider its benefits for customers:
● The software does not need to be installed on PCs and employees’ desktops. Access can be arranged via the computer’s browser. Sometimes a client software is installed, but this is most often a matter of convenience for the particular company
● A drastic reduction in the cost of organizing the work of the company. If the business owner chooses client or client-server software, it may incur costs to pay for the software, rent premises, to organize a data center. It is also worth considering the cost of staff salaries and regular computer maintenance
● Reducing the cost of upgrading deployed systems to their complete reduction
● Quick start. It takes 1-2 minutes to sign in the application. Afterwards, you should log in and be fully familiar with the software
● Multiplatform. The payer does not depend on the platform the developer chooses
● Work from any location with internet access
● Synchronising data across multiple devices
● No backup problems, as on physical devices – PC failure, HDD issues, etc
● Collaboration between users
There are several advantages for developers:
● Services are in demand. The largest companies in the world use them
● Rapid digitalization and increasing complexity of SaaS application development. Functions are becoming more complex and massive, but easier to use in practice
● The system can be implemented quickly and cheaply. It is easy to penetrate global markets
● There are no difficulties with unlicensed software and its prohibited distribution
● The SaaS client is tied to the provider. The user cannot buy the software once and use it after the relationship is terminated. The developer does not risk losing money – his investment is protected
● SaaS brings economic benefits in the long run. The model will generate more revenue than the user will spend to purchase a software licence. SaaS is more profitable because there is no need to spend money on technical support for the software being installed
● No large support team is needed to fix issues on users’ desktops
● Quick and frequent software updates, fully controlled by the developers
● User data protection
The advantage for both parties is increased competition. Users get an improved product with enhanced functionality due to the continued growth of the provider companies. Developers get more customers and investments if the application is properly designed.
But the model also has several drawbacks:
● Revenue is stretched over time. The user pays for the app once a month, and the cost of recruiting new users often exceeds the revenue from the first purchase. Hence the importance of constant contact between user and vendor. Developers need to retain an audience. To do this, the software needs to be updated regularly and become more creative
● For users, the service can be complicated by a lack of Internet access, including unstable Internet connections. In this case, the applications are slow to load or stop working
● The main disadvantage is support and server infrastructure costs
How SaaS are developed?
Building SaaS applications are common for B2B and B2C industries. Such programmes have opened up new perspectives for businesses by automating many routine tasks. Services help in sales management.
The development of a program depends on the planned functionality. The general procedure is as follows:
● Study the target audience and market. Everything starts with an idea. Developers research and select the target audience based on the idea. Define potential clients’ interests, mechanisms of emotional pressure and ways of meeting their needs. Having formulated the baseline, you can create a hypothesis – the first version of the target audience. After a test of the audience, you can conclude, whether it is suitable or not.
● Formulating the aims of the service. This is where you should gather all the information on the target audience, state service goals and main functions. All the implemented functions must solve the needs of consumers.
● Developing a prototype. So that developers can create a final version of the service, a scheme of its representation should be developed. The prototype should be logical and structured.
● Thinking through the architecture. The prototype is brought to life.
● Creating project design. To be marketable, SaaS needs to be original. Navigation should be concise and structured. The application needs to differentiate itself from competitive designs.
● Testing. At this stage, the usability of the platform is tested. It is necessary to understand how easy it is to work with. Also, its power is sufficient for the solution of their tasks. At this stage, they find errors in the service. Before the launch of the site, they need to be eliminated.
● Launch and further promotion. As soon as the tests are completed, the refinements are made, and the application is ready for the market. Here it is crucial to select the right target audience and give a powerful advertising campaign. Further on, the SaaS platform should be updated regularly. This is necessary to maintain competitiveness.
SaaS development team composition
First of all, the team is assembled along two lines – the application development team and the representatives of your company. Both of these components are necessary for the successful implementation of a project because it is the fruitful interaction of the development team with your company that is important for finding the most correct and profitable solutions. So who is part of almost any team?
On the part of the developing company:
▬ business analyst;
▬ marketing expert;
▬ project manager;
This is the minimum set of roles that allows you to work on a project in sufficient depth and detail. We will talk about the tasks of each of them in more detail later.
On the part of the client company:
▬ product owner;
▬ technical director;
▬ marketing director;
▬ digitalization manager.
It is important to clarify that the composition of the client’s team may vary depending on the internal structure of the company. But the main condition is that a representative of the company, authorised to make any development decisions, must be present during development. In this way, interaction will be as quick and productive as possible.
How much does it cost to develop SaaS application?
If you do decide to start SaaS software development, you need to know the cost, because without one you can’t make a business plan, plan investments, timeline, potential profit, etc.
However, let me disappoint you: there is no simple, one-size-fits-all answer. In theory, a small application can cost you as much as $10,000 to $15,000. A big project might even exceed a budget of $500,000. Unfortunately, there is no universal recipe, because development costs depend on a huge number of nuances. What aspects influence the final cost of SaaS software development?
● Scope. Choosing the right niche can save you a lot of time, and most importantly, money. On the other hand, if you are determined to compete and can attract investment, it won’t be a problem. Just keep in mind – it affects the price.
● Variety of features. It’s simple – the more complex the application, the more work, the bigger the team, and the bigger the salaries and development time. And this means more costs.
● Integration with other systems. All programmers know that integration with other systems is almost always fraught with debriefings, phone calls, writing/reading documentation and problems. Of course, there are exceptions, but you shouldn’t miss this point.
● Technical analysis and decisions.
● Additional costs. Don’t be fooled – in SaaS development, this can be far from the last line in the expense column. With every new line of code, and every item that needs to be added after the basis of the application is ready, the costs can increase significantly.
Your Relevant SaaS Development partner
Our company SapientPro has extensive experience in developing SaaS applications for both large commercial and small-scale projects. We can offer a small, versatile solution that does not need to allocate a large budget. Or create a new, unique solution that can be scaled, developed and implemented in the most innovative ideas and any business processes. We can create not only an optimised, high-quality and user-friendly application, but also make it secure.
Owing to the experience and cooperation with partners from different spheres of business we know how to scale and integrate our applications both with services and other programs and information systems.
Our team of professionals will carefully listen to your idea, analyse your target audience and requirements, and give you the best approaches, solutions and deadlines. Our philosophy: our customers’ success = our success.
We have grown up together with our customers:
https://contentoo.com – started as MVP in 2018, raised $1M of investments in 2021
Looking forward to be involved in building a new product and make it succeed!