For years, the market has shown an increasing number of software solutions that are offered on demand rather than on premise. The providers of on-demand software consider themselves to be a service provider as well as a partner. What are the characteristics of software-as-a-service and what factors should be considered?
Here are 10 points on why it is a good idea to think about software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, for example when it comes to employee training.
In contrast to on-premise solutions that need a long time for preparation, such as installation and implementation, software-as-a-service solutions are immediately ready for use. SaaS-platforms also require less administrative expense, as internal IT-administration is generally not needed. Maintenance of the software as well as back-ups and safety issues lie within the provider’s responsibility. Another point that needs attention is support. A reliable help desk is an important bonus of SaaS-systems.
SaaS-learning platforms can be used parallel to or integrated into existing IT-systems offhand. This way, the implementation of such a system can be run without technical expenditure.
There is not only less expenditure when it comes to installation and maintenance of the systems. Some software-as-a-service solutions also impress with their straightforwardness in the actual usage. Uncomplicated interfaces, as well as intuitive design, make the systems easily understandable, even for employees who are not that familiar with technology.
Especially in the field of e-learning, user-friendly systems are the linchpin. For trainings that need to be carried out on a regular basis, for example because of constant product updates, Learning Management Systems would seem to be the right choice. They are practical as they support sustainability of trainings, and, in addition, serve as a kind of back up for new contents during everyday usage. This way, an e-learning course within a SaaS-LMS can serve as revision of on-premise training, thus, being an excellent example of blended learning put to practice.
Often, the possibility to brand software is offered. Using the company logo and adjusting the colors to fit the own corporate design, makes the employees feel right at home within the environment. Once set, the email communication will also be branded.
When it comes to software-as-a-service, data security is a sensitive and very important issue. Providers should be reviewed concerning their respectability and reliability. On the one hand, reports of other users’ experiences come in handy here, on the other hand, own enquiries are indispensable. Computer centers of reputable businesses are highly secure, certified, and monitored permanently. Attention should be paid to ensure that no US services are used, as they often fail to meet the strict requirements for data protection. The servers should therefore be based in the EU.
Starting to use the software in the browser right away? Within a few minutes online trainings for employees can be created, for instance by converting a PowerPoint file into a course. Updates of course contents are carried out online, this way, making changes available for all course participants in real time so that everyone is always working with the most recent information. Access – for editing or learning – is possible regardless of the system in use: Windows, Mac, and mobile devices. Productivity and flexibility are increased, thus leaving more time for the core business.
In addition, SaaS-systems are more flexible: The software is scalable to current needs. Pausing and re-activating is possible, even without leaving the purchased hardware unused. Not only the period of use is flexible, also the access options are. Since a web-browser is the only requirement, the platform can be accessed regardless of location and device. This way, employees have the possibility to access all data on one central platform – for example a product training to refresh their knowledge – whether they are working in or outside the office or at home. International and national businesses with many sites, and businesses that work in shifts especially profit from this flexibility. From a temporal point of view, flexibility is also very important: regardless of the opening hours, the platform can always be accessed.
If needed, SaaS-learning platforms can be integrated into existing systems. Platforms should provide API-interfaces for this purpose. For example, this way user data from HR-systems can be imported, and learning results can be retrieved. Single-Sign-On is also easily possible by means of the API. This way, different system can be interconnected seamlessly.
Software-as-a-Service especially qualifies for small and medium-sized businesses for its low investments risk. The purchase of hardware such as servers is not applicable, expenses for installations do not arise. Operating costs become more calculable and cause fewer headaches. It can be profited from flexible, transparent accounting models that are scalable depending on actual usage and need. According to a study conducted by McKinsey, about 30% of expenses can be saved when a SaaS-solution is implemented. To get a full cost comparison between SaaS and on-premise solution, calculators that also include long-term expenses are of use as they calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO).
SaaS-solutions are standardized products, nevertheless, the software will continuously be maintained and improved. This way, the own company benefits from all developments. Most providers also have a roadmap with upcoming developments, and the own feedback can have an impact on that. Therefore, a SaaS-platform is future-proof, adaptable, and no static product. It is further developed continuously, based in new requirements and technical innovations.
Updates and upgrades are another item of cost of on-premise systems. In contrast, they are part of the service of on-demand software, so that no unexpected costs for renewals and conversions respectively have to be coped with. The risk of not getting any support for outdated software also renders invalid.
Since the software is provided as a service, it can be assumed that the product has already been tested and found to be good by other users. A large number of users also provides the safety that the system runs smoothly at all times. Up-time warranty should be no less than 99.9%. In the unlikely case of an occurring down-time, the provider will immediately find a solution.
Software-as-a-service offers many advantages when compared to on-premise solutions: comparatively less effort with less investment risk, as well as an effective, flexible, and reliable software solution that comes with continuous developments. In addition, many systems have the ability to be integrated and offer adaptions to the company’s corporate identity. Finally, when opting for a reputable partner that hosts sensitive data in the EU, there is nothing in the way of on-demand usage of a user-friendly software.