SaaS Straitjacket

The SaaS Straitjacket and How to Escape it

Saas (Software as a Service) should ideally make life easier – but can choosing the wrong SaaS product actually restrict companies and limit their resources?

There’s no doubt that SaaS products have the potential to outperform the legacy systems that precede them. Spend less to get a product that does more? That sounds like a pretty simple calculation, right?

Well, yes and no. The industry’s rapid advances have generated enormous confidence in the ability of SaaS vendors to reduce costs and mitigate risk. The theory is that your vendor will have your headaches for you.

This confidence, coupled with the apparent ease of adopting services, means that some customers risk conducting inadequate evaluations of the SaaS offerings they purchase.

So how could choosing the wrong vendor be limiting?

Some of the top concerns include:

– Using an unfamiliar UI

– Having to migrate your data

– Working within limited processes

Of course, these are three things that work for the benefit of the vendor rather than the client. These limitations might be acceptable for a small business, but they can be simply crippling for enterprises that are large or rapidly growing.

That’s why the babelforce approach aspires to more customer-centric principles: usability, and the freedom for clients to build whatever services they need on top of intelligent automations.

So let’s unpick that a little bit.

Get me out of this Interface!

Even the most intuitive application requires a resource spend on setup and training – but this pales in comparison with the effort of integrating existing systems with visual elements of a SaaS tool. A SaaS vendor aimed at smaller businesses will also have an UI that they expect your employees to use. This may well help the vendor, but it’s of questionable value to your end-users.

A collaborative survey from Thinkstrategies/Mulesoft indicated that issues with integration are among primary concerns for project stakeholders. This suggests that, despite over a decade of mainstream success, many SaaS vendors have failed to address a central problem with the model.

79% of survey respondents say that integrating SaaS product is 'somewhat' or 'highly' time consuming Click To Tweet

Processes also suffer. As the number of applications rises, and users are forced to constantly switch between them, processes that were once lean quickly become bloated.

Thankfully, this is a problem with a simple solution: use your own UI. Rather than going through the rigmarole of retraining staff, why not display information within the applications they already use?

By embedding our standard applications as widgets in core interfaces, users are able to keep the tab count down. At the same time, advanced phone and SMS functions can be used from within key workspaces like your Helpdesk and your CRM.

In other words, why come to us when we can come to you?

The Great Data Migration

SaaS apps commonly require complex data migrations. Moving large volumes of data – like transferring customer information from an internal database into a CRM tool – is usually a customised process with its own risks and costs.

As workflows and business processes cross multiple systems, integration complexity rises, with the consolidation of multiple databases threatening both efficiency and data integrity.

Once a client company has navigated the murky waters of all this complexity, they face the headline concerns of data migration – security, compliance, and the potential difficulties of retrieval.

In 2013 the Aberdeen Group completed an analysis that showed 1 in 3 companies using SaaS had lost data, mainly through end-user deletion. 45% of respondents had concerns about the safety and security of data maintained in the SaaS system.

Any capable vendor should be able to answer these concerns, but there is no escaping the fact that convoluted migration projects expose data resources to new vulnerabilities.

It can be a significant roadblock for a project leader’s business case when purchase groups weigh the benefits of SaaS against data ownership concerns.

The best and most satisfying answer would probably be to embrace SaaS functionality while retaining all your own data.

So that’s exactly what we offer.

babelforce does not want or need your data, thank you very much. Our standard API actions perform lookups in your databases, and use that information to drive customer contact processes.

Processes and workflows do not get degraded, data does not get compromised, and clients do not have to worry about customer details vanishing into the ether.

We don’t want to start our relationship with a huge migration project when your data is already exactly where it needs to be.

But what if I want to implement a different process…

For all the leanness and functionality they tout, many SaaS products simply do not offer the infrastructure control necessary to build automated workflows.

The upshot is that the end user will quickly reach a ceiling, beyond which the product cannot offer the functions needed to complete a task.

One claim to be wary of is that public APIs open up limitless customization. Developing and integrating with APIs eats up valuable IT resources, and produces an end result that is not guaranteed to meet your ever-changing requirements.

Or to put it another way, the customization potential for public APIs is only as ‘limitless’ as your resources.

Don’t sacrifice your process requirements because of function limitations. We’ve standardised API actions, packing them into flexible workflow elements in a simple interface. You can build and link any kind of call process, changing and scaling the flows as needed.

The line between #API and #SaaS product is blurring. This trend will give birth to great companies Click To Tweet

Core business processes can be configured simply and integrated with other systems, all without any coding requirements. Not only does this simplify customizations, but it drastically increases the number of internal stakeholders who can meaningfully contribute to ongoing change.

There are no universally applicable processes – but there are close fits that you can shape to suit your needs.

With all that in mind, why not stretch out your arms, roll your shoulders, and shrug off that SaaS straightjacket.