Chances are you don’t know what software as a service (SaaS) is, but you probably use the technology without even realising it. It’s a term you’ll often hear bandied around in meetings with developers and business analysts, but it’s not an especially complex concept, here are the essentials.

Using SaaS

What is SaaS?

SaaS is a form of cloud computing that lets you store information such as presentations, documents, assets and other files online. You can access it from any device with an internet connection. It’s hugely beneficial to companies of any size since it is secure, safe from physical damage and it helps facilitate collaboration between teams in any location.

If a server goes down or a laptop is lost, the data can still be accessed. Everything from marketing plans to HR solutions can be stored via SaaS, which means peace of mind for any team that uses it.

The benefits of SaaS

1. It’s affordable

Companies pay a subscription for software, rather than a much larger one-off fee. IT budgets can therefore be much smaller and still ensure the latest technology. Plus, you’ll be guaranteed the latest updates, new features and a certain amount of developer support when things go wrong.

2. It’s manageable

You don’t need a dedicated team or complicated rollout programme in order to get everybody using any given SaaS. The vendor you lease SaaS technology from handles most of the heavy lifting. Patches and improvements are implemented incrementally as well, so there’s very little down time as maintenance is carried out.

3. It can be used anywhere

Perhaps the biggest draw of SaaS is the flexibility it offers. With applications accessible on just about any device with an internet connection, employees have the freedom to work on projects on the move and in just about any location. With tablets and smartphones becoming as viable as laptops when it comes to work, support across devices is more important than ever.

4. It can easily be scaled up or down

Rather than purchasing more licences as your team grows, you can simply add more users to the subscription. You don’t have to worry about bumping up server capacity either – it’s all done on the vendor’s side. Perfect for those businesses that experience rapid growth, or peaks and troughs as projects ramp up and wind down.

Working in the cloud

Potential caveats of SaaS

1. Network outage

However, as ITProPortal.com highlights, it’s good idea to have a backup plan in place should anything go wrong. For instance, if a key team member is working remotely and they suffer a network outage, how can you ensure they still have access to the information they need?

2. ‘Shadow IT’

Something else to consider is shadow IT. This is the practice of tech-savvy employees getting around the restrictions imposed by internal IT teams by using software managed off-site. As TechWeekEurope.co.uk suggests, the way to combat unauthorised software use is to create a hybrid solution off SaaS and proprietary, in-house systems.

Further reading

Takeaway

Just like any other adoptions of tech advances, the key in SaaS adoption is to experiment by running trials and seeing what works best for your business. You may want to do so  in a closed system that won’t (greatly) impact your overall business operations.