SAAS INTEGRATION: HOW, WHEN, HOW MUCH?
Apr 15 2021
The idea of Software as a Service (SaaS) has always been there, but the right technologies appeared in the late 1990s. Today, there are many ways to apply SaaS for your company – for example, one can purchase a standard solution from a vendor or develop a custom version for unique purposes. You’ll decide which way is better for your business goals while we’re answering the most popular questions about SaaS technology, its pros and cons, monetization, implementation, and cost to develop.
Table of contents
FAQS ON SAAS INTEGRATION
Are SaaS and Cloud the Same Technology?
A cloud is an immensely complicated infrastructure technology that consists of connected computers, servers, and databases. Users can lease access to this power to store their data securely and use it when needed. The cloud environment usually means anything you host remotely and deliver through the Internet, while the term “SaaS” refers to software applications that are delivered via the cloud and used specifically for business needs. How does a SaaS solution work? Let’s take, for example, Google Docs – a free service for working with text documents, tables, and presentations. You can run it from any place in the world where there is an Internet connection to enter your Google account. This SaaS product makes it easy to cooperate with colleagues remotely, share your work with anyone via a direct link, give different access levels, etc. Cloud technologies offer you practically unlimited opportunities. You can use modern technology to either apply SaaS for your own projects or to become a company that provides these services for others.
The idea of SaaS isn't new
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How Do I Know When to Apply SaaS?
There are several factors signifying that your company may benefit from cloud software. Let's discover the most prominent reasons to apply SaaS. The first factor is the complexity of your business. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is our company’s specialization? Are we significantly different from others within the industry?
- What functionality do we need from a SaaS platform? Will a standard, one-size-fits-all solution fulfill these needs?
- If we choose customized software, what functions should it have?
The answers to these questions will show if your business is complex and unique enough to require SaaS. The second factor to consider is your budget. Small-sized companies will benefit from cooperation with trustworthy SaaS vendors by paying small sums regularly. Medium-sized and large enterprises may apply a custom, on-premise SaaS platform to achieve their specific business objectives.
How Do I Monetize SaaS as a Vendor?
The popularity of Software as a Service is continuously growing – the market value increased by 21,7% in 2019. It’s predicted to grow further, which is not surprising because people get the functionality they need and don’t bother themselves with equipment and maintenance. This convenience is the main reason to apply SaaS. If you want to develop a SaaS solution to become a vendor for other companies, here are some monetization strategies for you to know. Many providers use different kinds of subscriptions for their customers.
|Subscription type||How it works|
|Freemium||The SaaS solution has a free entry-level tier. If customers want to lift functional restrictions, they upgrade to a paid tier.|
|Ad-based||The service is free for users while you as a provider generate revenue through paid advertising for other businesses. As an option, customers upgrade to a paid tier and use SaaS without ads.|
|Functionality tiers||The cost of SaaS for a customer will depend on the feature set. Usually, companies offer the minimum, medium, and maximum functionality.|
|Storage tiers||Customers use the service freely but with limited storage, which means they have to pay to continue using the product.|
|Flat rate||Customers pay a fixed monthly or annual fee and get access to the full functionality.|
|User tiers||Pricing is determined by the number of people using the SaaS service. Sometimes the price is based on the number of active users.|
|Usage tiers||The more customers use a SaaS platform, the more they pay – and vice versa.|
If you want to apply SaaS and become a vendor, you can choose one of these models or combine them within your monetization strategy.
How Can SaaS Help my Work?
If you’re planning to apply SaaS, it means you already know why it’s beneficial for a business. Let’s have a quick look through the list of the most significant advantages.
Many benefits to make your work easier
- Increasing productivity by the trouble-free connection for the entire company.
- Cost-effectiveness for end-users, as they don’t need to equip, license, and maintain their own data centers.
- Flexibility in usage and paying because users purchase a subscription to apply SaaS.
- Customization opportunities give integrations with numerous business applications and enable additional functions, fully covering the cost to develop SaaS.
- Trouble-free experience since a vendor provides everything from installation to maintenance.
- Automatic updates from a SaaS provider are convenient for customers.
- Vertical scalability, meaning that users get services or features on-demand and as many as they want.
- Easy access from any device or location because the only thing your customers need is a stable connection to the Internet.
You can benefit from all these opportunities, whether developing a custom SaaS platform for your own needs or applying SaaS to provide B2B.
Is my Data Safe with Saas?
This question is essential if you’re determined to apply SaaS. With traditional software, it’s up to users to make their network secure. SaaS integration means that a software vendor and cloud provider become responsible for data protection. Though cloud-based technology is rapidly evolving and adapting today, there are still some security and privacy difficulties.
Many issues to consider
What data safety challenges you may encounter when applying SaaS:
- Security monitoring;
- Data encryption;
- Key management;
- Data privacy;
- Data residency;
- IAM (Identity and Access Management);
- Incident response;
- Integration with other security environments in a company;
- Additional expenses (e.g., third-party tools to compensate risks) increasing SaaS development cost;
- Poor communication with B2B SaaS technical experts leaves unanswered questions or misunderstandings.
Knowing what kinds of weak spots may occur, you are ready to strengthen them and prevent security risks. Now you’ve become more prepared to apply SaaS.
What Are Some Popular Examples of SaaS Platforms?
An outbreak of COVID made companies switch to remote work since 2020. As a result, a wide selection of online collaboration tools, from online conferencing and chats to file sharing and data storage, became a must-have. There are two main ways to apply SaaS solutions – horizontal and vertical. Some well-known horizontal SaaS platforms satisfy the customers’ universal needs. Whether it’s an individual user or a whole company, anyone can benefit from such products. Horizontal SaaS solutions include:
- Video conferencing platforms like Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts;
- Online chats like Slack, Wire, or Chanty;
- Time-tracking tools like Harvest, Time Doctor, or Everhour;
- Cloud storage and file-sharing apps like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox;
- Project management and collaboration platforms like Trello, Asana, or Jira.
Jira is a SaaS solution for project management
On the other hand, vertical SaaS products serve business needs within a specific, niche industry. The most prominent players in the vertical SaaS market are:
- Cox Automotive (car manufacturing);
- Guidewire (property insurance);
- Lufax (banking and insurance);
- Veeva (pharmaceutical management);
- Innovaccer (healthcare);
- Infor (manufacturing and other industries).
Infor is an international SaaS platform for lots of industries
Platforms like these are also called “SaaS ERP solutions.” You can read more about them in our blog post.
Should I Choose a Basic or Customized SaaS Solution?
The market offers plenty of ways to apply SaaS to your work processes – you can purchase any kind of subscription from an independent vendor or, alternatively, go for custom SaaS development. Let’s compare these two main approaches.
|Basic SaaS integration||Custom SaaS development|
|Benefits||1. Trouble-free experience for a customer
2. Unlimited access to your data
3. Jointed work and smooth communication
|1. Individual approach and unique functionality
2. On-demand changes and improvements
3. You have total control over data storage and security
|Challenges||1. A vendor may go away from the market
2. Security breaches, service disruptions, and other problems beyond your control
3. There is nothing you can do if a new version of a SaaS application turns out to be unsatisfying or inconvenient to use
4. Changing SaaS vendors is a long technical process with large data migration
|1. You need to select the right functionality for your business goals
2. Cost to develop SaaS may be too high for a smaller company
When you apply SaaS from a third-party vendor, there are always many issues to address. The custom solution, however, doesn’t have all these problems. If you apply SaaS with the help of a web development company, the software will be tailored to your needs, goals, and expectations.
HOW TO APPLY SAAS TO YOUR BUSINESS
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SaaS Application Features – MVP & Advanced Product
B2B SaaS platforms and applications should have basic functionality to operate workflow and some industry-related features that help perform specific tasks. Let’s discover all of them in detail. A typical set of features for SaaS development includes:
- Sign-in, Log-in, and Log-out systems;
- User profiles with editing tools and settings (change passwords, select subscription plans, etc.);
- Admin account where you can remove users or choose different roles for them, edit all content, etc.;
- Dashboard to view statistics, reports, graphics, etc.;
- Billing system (if you apply SaaS to offer your services by subscription);
- Notifications (push, SMS, email, etc.).
When startups apply SaaS, they usually begin with a minimum viable product – MVP. How is it built? Within a few weeks, a team (1 UX/UI designer and 1-2 developers) creates a basic app to try with real users on the market. MVP is your experimenting field. It can teach you how to build a SaaS platform that will succeed. The primary advantages to an MVP:
- Relatively short time-to-market;
- Fast feedback from users;
- Minimal cost to develop SaaS;
- Fewer financial risks.
Based on your real-life experiment results, you can make minor adjustments or significant changes, build up your product, and eventually create a full-blown B2C or B2B SaaS platform. There also can be some advanced functional tools solving your customers’ problems and enabling them to perform specific tasks. For example, a business needs to apply SaaS for their routine jobs, management, and collaboration. What features will be there? File sharing, Document management, Live chats and Voice calls, Search, etc. Additional features can raise the cost to develop SaaS, but they solve some specific issues as well. What you can add to SaaS products:
- Enhanced security features to protect sensitive information, financial or personal.
- Role-based access, managed by platform’s admins.
- Single sign-on, meaning that users don’t need to log in every time they use a SaaS app. They can also enter multiple services with the same username and password.
- Advanced statistics, including business metrics and advice on improvement.
- Audit log. This feature helps you track any user activity to prevent suspicious actions.
This functionality you can create for an MVP or a fully-fledged SaaS platform
No matter what features you’d choose to build for your SaaS app, all of them should bring value and solve your customers’ pain points. As long as you see how they use the basic set, you’ll be able to introduce some advanced functions gradually.
Design, Testing, and Security When You Apply SaaS
Let’s dive into some other significant aspects of SaaS development and integration. Why do you need UX/UI experts for a SaaS application? It’s not only about aesthetics and visual impressions. Excellent UX/UI design is crucial if you want to apply SaaS. An experienced designer makes the navigation clear and user-centered, enabling convenient and prolonged use of your website or app. What about QA testing? Why is it an integral part of SaaS development? Specialists carry out quality assurance tests continuously at each stage of the project. It’s an essential part of building SaaS architecture and features. A/B testers pay much attention to the following aspects:
- User experience;
Is it possible to release a SaaS platform without stepwise and pre-launch testing? No, it’s too risky for your product’s safe and stable work. What is more, you risk making an awful first impression if users find too many bugs and glitches. The ideal scenario is when you work with a test group of potential customers before the official launch of your SaaS product. These first users will help with priceless feedback on how effectively all the integrations, logic, and design work. It’s easier to fix and improve things before a SaaS app goes to the real market. What are some regulations for SaaS development? Security is one of the top priorities when you develop and apply SaaS. Compliance with industry standards is also essential. TLS and SSL encryption protocols are standard security measures for SaaS platforms and applications. Moreover, think about national and international regulations for a sector where you apply SaaS products. For instance, the healthcare industry requires GDPR or HIPAA compliance, and the developers’ previous experience will help a lot.
Technology Stacks to Develop SaaS Platforms
SaaS development starts with a professional team and high-end technologies. There are many suitable programming languages, libraries, frameworks, and other tools to help you develop and apply SaaS. Whether it is an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) with basic functionality or a fully-featured SaaS solution, we can recommend a few reliable technologies.
These tech stacks will help build a SaaS solution
- Mobile development frameworks and programming languages include Flutter, Java, Kotlin, and Swift.
- A server for a SaaS app can be Apache or Nginx.
- The databases for SaaS apps are MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Redis.
- A cloud host for SaaS platforms can be either AWS (Amazon Web Services), Azure, or Google Cloud.
When creating a B2B SaaS solution, it’s essential to have flexible development resources that can, for example, enable smooth work with the required minimum of resources. It’s not enough to apply SaaS; you should also prepare it to manage the users’ increase without glitches or slowing down. All successful platforms are built with scalable architecture that enables constant growth and provides an excellent user experience. You should also create a plan of future integrations, extensions, customization, security frameworks, backup, and recovery. How will developers build the back-end functionality for your SaaS platform? There are two ways:
- from scratch (fulfilling custom needs);
- with API integrations (reducing the development time).
When you create and apply SaaS, it’s important to estimate each step – how scalable it is, how much are initial costs and potential profits, etc. The right choice of tech stacks may affect the overall quality and the cost to develop SaaS. Consult with your IT partner to find the best solution for your industry requirements and specific business goals.
Launch and Maintenance of B2B SaaS Platforms
When you launch a SaaS product, it’s important to be compliant with technical specifications and security regulations. Make sure the launch is income-oriented, meaning that you engage with active marketing, collect customer feedback, and monitor significant metrics. Moreover, the end-product needs to be frequently refreshed, updated, and optimized. These operations add up to the cost to develop SaaS, but they are vital for stable work on each user’s side. Developers ensure no-downtime deployment so that all updates and new features are rolled out simultaneously for all customers. How do you know you’ve launched a B2B SaaS product successfully? Follow this checklist.
Here is what you need to make your SaaS platform work
SaaS integration for any industry includes:
- A ready-to-use solution to solve the customers’ pain points;
- Enough storage space and usable settings;
- Secure data transfer and storage;
- Multi-device access via the same account;
- User-friendly feature sets and subscriptions;
- A free trial period;
- Easy upgrades or downgrades;
- Regular maintenance and updates for users, without them even noticing.
SAAS DEVELOPMENT COST
The cost to develop SaaS depends on several factors. The most prominent of them is the project’s complexity – features, third-party integrations, etc. How can you reduce expenses here? First of all, wisely select two types of functionality: essential and additional. Your development team can help you with that at the first stages of project designing and prototyping. Having chosen what to start with and what to add later, you don’t overpay. What are other components affecting the cost to develop SaaS products for startups? Let’s list them:
- The development team’s location – American developers work for $150-200 an hour, while Eastern European experts have $30-50 of hourly rates.
- The product’s type and complexity – the more features and integrations with other services you need, the more you have to pay.
- Some tech-related choices – a platform’s architecture, backend development tools, etc.
These experts will build a SaaS solution for you
Apart from web developers and UX/UI designers, the cost to develop SaaS will include some other specialists’ work. The whole development team has:
- Project manager (PM);
- Business analyst
- Product manager (a startup founder is the most qualified candidate for this role);
- User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) designer;
- Cloud solutions architect;
- Backend developer;
- Frontend web developer;
- Mobile frontend developer;
- DevOps specialist;
- QA engineer.
Suppose you’ve chosen to hire SaaS software developers in Eastern Europe or Russia. If the specialists charge $30 per hour and your product takes around three months to develop, it will cost from $15 000 to 20 000 for an MVP. If you decide to add a mobile version of your product, the cost to develop SaaS may double. A full-blown platform with mobile versions for Android and iOS may cost you anywhere between $70 000 and $200 000. Besides the general cost to develop a SaaS app, there will be some post-launch expenses. They include:
- Promotional and marketing;
- Tech support;
- Employee training, if necessary.
Well-informed decisions will help you save considerable expenses. Ask your project manager and developers for a consultation on how to achieve the minimum required performance, user experience, and safety within your budget.
READY FOR SAAS? HERE’S HOW EXCEED TEAM CAN HELP
We’ve talked about the ways to apply SaaS, some examples and technologies, monetization models, and the cost to develop SaaS. If you understand the basic principles of how this technology works and what advantages it brings to a business, you can then choose functionality for your specific needs. Exceed Team’s in-house expertise allows us to develop successful SaaS platforms for various industries:
- Real estate;
- Manufacturing, and more.
The technical solutions we offer help our clients save both their time and budget. Do you need a customized, unique SaaS solution in line with your business requirements? Our professional team will design, code, test, and launch a smooth-working product. Are you concerned about how a new SaaS platform will cooperate with your other business tools and third-party services? Don’t worry, our experts will provide seamless integrations. Perhaps you’d like a helping hand at the moment – write us about your business and what you need to apply SaaS for, and our knowledgeable consultants will prepare all the necessary information.
Most popular questions
When do you need to apply SaaS?
If you have a company with a certain structure and long-term goals, SaaS solutions will be beneficial for you. Smaller businesses can effectively use read-made software from vendors, while middle-sized and large companies will get the best from custom SaaS platforms where everything is tailored to their business specifics.
What are the main advantages of using SaaS?
1. Increased productivity. 2. Easy connection. 3. Customization and integrations with other apps. 4. Reduced expenses (when you buy a subscription to use a standard solution). 5. On-demand services or features. 6. Easy access from any device or location.
How much does it cost to build a custom SaaS platform?
Suppose you hired developers in Eastern Europe or Russia. If the specialists charge $30 per hour and an MVP takes three months to develop, it will cost from $15 000 to 20 000. A full-blown platform with many integrations and mobile versions for Android and iOS may cost you anywhere between $70 000 and $200 000.
What is a typical set of features of any SaaS platform?
1. Sign-in, Log-in, and Log-out systems; 2. User profiles, editing, settings; 3. Admin account; 4. Dashboard, statistics, reports; 5. Billing system; 6. Notifications.
What integrations and advanced features are useful in SaaS solutions?
It's possible to make integration with your Enterprise Management System (EMS), Risk management software, etc. The advanced features also include: 1. Enhanced security; 2. Role-based access; 3. Tracking user activity; 4. Single sign-on; 5. More statistics with business metrics and advice.
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