Cloud-based SaaS is relatively a new approach for businesses to provide software solutions on a subscription basis and it has become one of the most admired industry trends in recent times. According to multiple reports, approximately 85% of small businesses have already invested in SaaS and it is expected to generate a market share of 105 billion USD in 2020. Before we jump into the development phase of SaaS application, let’s first understand what exactly SaaS is, its advantages, and why so many businesses are tweaked towards it.
What is the Cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) model?
In simple words, these are the same applications or software as we use but instead of installing and storing data on our own computer, it stores data on web-clouds which can be accessed by anyone having your account credentials. And these services can be purchased on a monthly or yearly subscription basis just like your Netflix account. This is quite a simple progression as you can think of but it offers very useful features and due to this, many businesses are inclined to invest in a cloud-based SaaS model. If you want to dig further, here are some related terms – IaaS and PaaS that you can opt to explore.
Now let’s have a glimpse at the numerous advantages of SaaS:
- Access to Anyone: Literally anyone having any compatible desktop or laptop, residing in any location around the globe can access the data and software as long as they have a stable internet connection & authorization.
- Try & Buy: It’s just like online shopping……you don’t like the product? Return it! The reputed SaaS providers always offer a free trial version to new users. So, you can try all the alternatives and opt for the one which suits you the most.
- No Development Headache: Unlike custom software, there is no huge IT workforce required to manage and look after your software to ensure it is following the best in industry trends. SaaS providers are responsible for all the updates, maintenance, bug fixes, etc.
- Low upfront cost & fast deployment: This is a huge advantage for people who want quick solutions at a cheaper price. As these are already available on web-clouds, you’re just a few clicks away from signing up and using it.
- Scalability: When the growth curve of your business experiences a spike, then you might have to refine your existing processes. And fortunately, SaaS providers offer many flexible up-gradation services.
You must be amazed after learning the imperative benefits offered by cloud-based SaaS applications. However, planning a practical in-market strategy for launching a SaaS-model is quite different from any eCommerce solution or web application development process.
We have defined the approach in 6 simple steps which may assist you to build a thriving SaaS application and smoothly deploy it.
Step 1: Think out of the box
There is no denial to cloud-based SaaS being one of the hottest industry trends but the harsh fact is – that there is dime a dozen SaaS applications launched every month. So, you’ll be just another brick in the wall if you have to offer nothing different. Thus, you really need to think of some unique solution that provides distinct value to your customers.
Step 2: Competitor analysis and Market research
This is somehow a non-technical approach but plays an important role as collecting data about competitors out there will give you a bunch of new ideas about your SaaS app. As they said – Goods marketers copy while great ones steal. However, don’t get it wrong here as it is not about stealing or copying anyone. But if any of the competitors are genuinely doing well, there is nothing bad in figuring out what is the secret sauce behind it, what was their journey, and how they started. This gives you a lot of confidence and of course a practical approach to success.
Step 3: Define the features and functionalities you want and collect references
Jot down the list of features you want in your SaaS application. You should be clear about what functionalities are required after doing considerable market research in the previous step. Collect at least 2-3 references that have those desired qualities. Believe us, it is going to help you a lot when you’re explaining the complete idea to the programmer and designer or your technology partner if you have chosen to outsource. This will bridge the gaps in understanding each other and will land both of you on the same page.
Step 4: Design Perspective – User Interface & User Experience
Now, once you have cleared all your doubts regarding the functionalities of your cloud-based SaaS application, you should shed some light on UI and UX. People tend to ignore this vital step or some even skip it, references are going to help here definitely but it’s all about being unique and not just another brick in the wall as explained earlier. And as we are living in an era of pleasing experiences – hence, if you are planning for long-term success, investing a significant amount of time and money in user interface and experience is going to be worth it.
There have been many applications with better functionalities turned down by the people just because of poor UI/UX. And that’s why it makes sense for you to have a rocking UI/UX strategy.
Step 5: Opt for the Right Technology Stack
This is indeed a really hard nut to crack. There are tons of technologies and frameworks available and to identify which one suits you best, you need to dig deeper within each.
That’s going to be a tedious task, isn’t it?
Fortunately, we were able to boil down the list of best web development technologies in 2020 after concrete market research that includes metrics such as Github stars, repositories, popular companies using it, community support, libraries, recent updates, etc. Below is the list of these technologies:
- Python (Django & Flask)
- PHP (Laravel)
- Ruby on Rails
- React JS
- Vue JS
- Backbone JS
- Ember JS
While the importance of HTML & CSS remains intangible in any kind of web application, not just cloud-based SaaS.
In databases, you don’t have so many choices other than MySQL, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL as these three are currently ruling the market and will undoubtedly cater to all your needs.
The server for your application can be Apache or AWS depending upon the tech stack you have chosen.
Step 6: Pricing Strategy
This is the last step and most important one which is going to have a direct impact on your revenue. You must have known the cost of developing your SaaS application until now and can get accurate quotations from SaaS development companies after defining the exact features and tech stack of the application. And if not, you can at least calculate MVP (Minimum Viable Product) pricing. Now let’s dive into the subscription fee you’re going to charge. It should be noted that both of these always go hand in hand. And please do not ignore the marketing investment as well.
Do you remember the 2nd step of competitor analysis? Well, it is going to help you a lot in offering the same set of services at a competitive price. To be honest, there are not any stringent rules of pricing. What’s important is – Don’t go so hard on pricing and always offer a free trial of a few days (a week or maybe a month), it gives confidence to the users and a sense of trust.
And who doesn’t love free stuff? Include your core features in the free trial and offer the advanced ones in paid versions. This is fair enough as genuine customers will always consider purchasing it if they like the core features.
We have listed 6 simple steps to develop a thriving cloud-based SaaS application. Depending upon the niche you are targeting, many metrics will vary including the costing and tech stack. Although, there are many popular brands that are generating exceptional revenues through their fascinating SaaS applications and you can do research about them to get some more crucial insights!!