Factors to consider when choosing a SaaS vendor. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing a SaaS provider. Selecting a Software as a Service (SaaS) vendor can be challenging. In some cases, the ‘selection process’ consists of entering corporate credit card information and agreeing to a dozen pages of unread terms and conditions; in other situations, it may be part of a lengthy procurement process. Here are things to consider as you embark on selecting a SaaS.
What happens to your data if you sever ties with the vendor?
It may seem a bit unsavory to start considering your ‘divorce’ from a SaaS provider before you’ve even officially coupled, but you don’t want your data to be held hostage should the provider fail, be acquired, or not work out. In the best case, you’ll be able to export all your data (including user account information, logs, customisations and so on) in a standardised format through an automated export function.
If the answer from your potential provider is, “Sure, just call us, and we’ll do it,” then further investigation is required, since that helpful attitude might change during a contract dispute or if the company fails. SwiftERM do store your data, we have to for an analysis of it to be achieved. It is perpetually encrypted and remains secure and most importantly only yours. Yes the predictive analytics runs through it, but there is no human interface with us. What’s more you can both download or delete it at any time. It is safely housed in a cloud extension to your own hosting facility.
How does the support process hold up in your trial runs?
Every vendor — SaaS providers included — has ‘world class’ support during the sales process, but the story can suddenly change once you become a paying customer. Create a trial account that doesn’t indicate your company affiliation, since you may receive preferential support if there’s a big name attached to a test account. Submit a support request and assess the quality of the support you receive.
For a larger SaaS deployment, research the support model. Will your help desk be responsible for ‘Tier 1’ support, or will users call the SaaS provider directly? How will your internal support organization communicate with the SaaS provider’s support? As SwiftERM is 100% automated, once the installation is complete there is nothing technical to support you on. The systems runs by itself, and while we are here 24/7 for you, rarely if ever do you need us. Indeed the only examples we can think of when clients have, is when they are changing platforms or upgrading their platform version or PHP, which is more a of a reassurance need. In these cases a quick liaison between developers and solution achieved.
What migration and training assistance options are available?
A major challenge with any new software deployment is migration to the new platform and subsequent end user training. Check if your potential SaaS provider can assist with these challenges through data migration tools, premade training tools, or consulting assistance on either front. For a large SaaS deployment, these can be points of leverage in contract negotiations, since it’s in everyone’s interest to make the migration as fast and painless as possible.
Again SwiftERM is fully automated, so there is no requirement for training – it is designed to do it all for you, thereby delivering zero staff overheads. There are no “seats” for training or additional cost for the number of users required, a further saving. You control who you provide the access code to log-in, so as to review the stats on your control panel performance page.
Can you test in parallel?
As you consider a SaaS provider, investigate whether you can migrate a single department or a small group of users to utilize the SaaS application in parallel to whatever it’s replacing. During this time period, you can gather user feedback, test the support process, and validate the business case for moving to SaaS. You’ll also have an opportunity to test the migration tools to and from the SaaS platform in a relatively low-risk manner.
SwiftERM needs data to perform, and while there is facility to test compatibility in a “sand-pit” environment, what everyone actually wants is to see it working. It can only do that with a full complement of products and consumer users. Not everyone, but most people, by-pass this option because it has already passed the rigoursous standards set by the platform in order to be listed in their marketplace.
How does functionality compare to maturity?
It’s easy to get excited by the flashy functionality and compelling cost savings of a SaaS delivery model, and start obsessing about getting the latest, bleeding-edge capabilities; however, innovative functionality is often the domain of the newest and least mature players in the SaaS market. While the functionality may be compelling, other areas like support, disaster recovery, and ultimately corporate funding may be lacking.
Temper excitement around features and functions with an honest assessment of the company’s maturity and ability to support your organisation in the long run. In some areas, an upstart may provide such compelling advantages that the risks are worthwhile. Ultimately, you must understand the risks and rewards, and plan to mitigate the former. SwiftERM was launched in 2014 after several years in development, and many years in fore-thought. While we pride ourselves on perpetually updating and improving the system, it would be fair a reasonable to say it has passed the test of time now.
What’s the backup plan?
It’s vital that you understand how your data are protected, and what redundancies are available should your SaaS provider have an outage. Too often SaaS providers point to their backend infrastructure provider (Amazon or Microsoft’s Azure) as “unsinkable.” While these platforms obviously have various redundancies, make sure your provider maintains its own readily accessible backups to prevent unforeseen or human errors, or provides an interface for you to perform your own backups.
Subscribers to SwiftERM enjoy a perpetual daily back-up of their data within our hosting infrastructure. It is agreed within our terms that in additional to your rights to download and delete your data at anytime, should you decide to leave etc, if you forget to do so, we will protect your consumers by doing so automatically for you after 3 months. We also have to comply with all GDPR laws (now both in the UK and in the EU, as well as BIS/DPL in the US), which administer the treatment of data and punish severely for any infringement.
Certification, Compliance and Standardisation
While certification and compliance might not be so important for small projects and businesses, they can be the deciding factor for enterprises that have to comply with industry standards. Standards and frameworks help short list providers, but they should not be the only deciding factor. Here are some of the main certification bodies and frameworks we have considered when delivering the SwiftERM SaaS:
- CSA (Cyber Security Alliance)
- PCI DSS
- Cyber Essentials
- Open Cloud Consortium
- Cloud Standards Customer Council
- TOGAF 9
What’s the pricing model?
A major attraction of SaaS is the simplified pricing model. In some cases, there are hidden charges, or pricing that varies based on metrics ranging from user counts, to transactions, to bandwidth. If the sales process glosses over these provisions, engage the assistance of your purchasing or legal department to wade through the fine print and confirm that you understand what might trigger a significant price increase. There are no “hidden-charges” from SwiftERM. We offer a tiered pricing rate, £100 per month up to the first 20,000 people on your database, with increments for every 10k of consumers thereafter.
The system is dynamic, so automatically triggers the next level as you pass each threshold. Retailers are usually amazed at the low charge rate, when considered against the ROI (in our case-studies), it makes for enjoyable reading. As personalised product selection for each individual consumer is perpetually delivered, we intend that it offers exceptionally accessible rates for everyone. If you don’t know where to start with email marketing, this is a “plugin and walk away” system, it’s all done for you. Likewise, if you would love to do email marketing but can’t afford the time, staff or money to do so – SwiftERM does it all for you automatically. What’s more the free month up-front means to start and stay in profit. As for the big Enterprise retailers, the higher AOV (10-15% average) CLV and smashed RoR are a given, to complements your marketing campaigns perfectly.
What integration options are available?
Rarely do our applications exist in silos, and as soon as your new SaaS tools gain traction there will be demands to integrate their data and functionality into other applications and reports. While many SaaS vendors provide a great portfolio of APIs and data sharing, make sure your people have the skills to access these interfaces, and that the data and functionality you might need to integrate are available. Our complement of UTM‘s used are available to integrate with other applications, and because it can be delivered in a variety of methods, it is universally compatible with all typically adopted methods.
Are your current and future user environments supported?
This may seem like an odd concern for SaaS-provided software since it’s usually delivered by a web browser, but as any web designer will tell you, all browsers are not created equally. Browsers such as Google Chrome are the darlings of many SaaS providers, and their software may not function correctly with corporate stalwart Internet Explorer — especially some of the older versions that are standard at some companies.
In addition, consider whether your SaaS provider offers mobile apps or mobile browser support if users will require access to the SaaS applications on the go. Users like those who work on the shop floor or in field sales may end up using their phones and tablets as the primary means for accessing the app, so ensure appropriate mobile support is provided.
We hope you enjoyed this article, intended to help improve our client’s profitability. It reflects the care SwiftERM offer. If you haven’t already done so, then please enjoy a FREE month’s trial and let us know what you think. Register, call us on 0207 998 3901, or book a call with us https://calendly.com/swifterm/15min or Zoom ID 964 515 7464
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