Are you thinking about switching some of your businesses core services online? Thinking about making the SAAS (software as a service) jump? Well before you do, READ THIS!
Online Business Services (SAAS)
Before we begin, I’m sure you’re asking yourself: “What does he mean… what are online business services and what is this SAAS stuff?”
It’s basically conventional software or key components of your business that are now featured on a website. Here are a couple of examples we use here at Atilus.
Instead of having a centralized server house project management software we utilize the online service, Basecamp to manage all of our projects.
Instead of installing a new version of quickbooks each year, we pay a monthly fee and use Quickbooks’ online version.
During our daily conversations with businesses we learn a lot about each of our clients, and if there’s one thing we have a passion about (other than web development) it’s business. So, occasionally we also make recommendations on business services like the ones outlined above. But the question is… do the pros outweigh the cons, and will YOUR business really benefit? So let’s take a quick look:
- Nothing to Install – Software and service is housed on someone else’s servers. You don’t have to worry about minimum requirements and compatibility.
- Lower Up Front Cost – You don’t have to but a piece of software with a big initial price tag, instead you conventionally pay a small recurring monthly fee.
- Possible Lower Total Cost – Depending on the service, their pricing model, and how often you conventionally upgrade, saas may in fact be less expensive.
- Global Access to Data – Most services are online, meaning you can access your information anywhere with an Internet connection (including a cell phone!).
- Reduced Maintenance Fees – This is a big one. Here’s a quick example. A company I used to work for spent about $5000 setting up sophisticated exchange email (exchange rocks, but it’s expensive and complicated). Then the server required monthly maintenance (about $300 in an IT persons time each month). At the end of 2 years, that’s $12,200 JUST FOR EMAIL – AND THE BULK OF THAT COMES FROM MAINTENANCE! Instead you can now get a hosted exchange account for as little as $15/box/month and the price for the same size office would be $5400 in 2 years (a savings of 65%).
Possible Higher Cost – Not all services reveal a savings, in fact some are much more expensive. Case in point, Quickbooks – the very reason I’m writing this post! We would buy a new version every 3 years for about $100. Now we pay about $30/month, every month meaning our cost has gone up 900%. Holy shit! BUT… we weighed the pros: our accountant can access it alongside us from her office, we can access the data anywhere (including a clients office), and we get continual updates, saving us valuable bookkeeping and accounting duty/time. Well worth the extra money.
Data Security – This is a biggie and differs based on services, products, and packages. Security may be an issue in your industry, so be sure to check into this before you make a decision.
Helplessness – What happens if a service goes down? Helplessness. Unlike your own server or software, where you can call someone to get it fixed… you just have to wait. I find this very much akin to flying, sure everyone KNOWS its safer, but they’re still scared to death! Why? BECAUSE THEY GIVE UP CONTROL! In truth we’ve used about a half dozen applications online for the last couple of years and have had little or no problems the entire time. And if there ever is an issue, its fixed quicker than we could call an IT person into the office to fix our server.