SaaS has many advantages but there are still a number of problems that a business may encounter when dealing with SaaS. Detailed below are some of the most common problems that business may face when using SaaS.
An internet connection is required at all times
One of the biggest drawbacks of SaaS is the fact that employee's can no longer work offline when SaaS software services are used and that they must be connected to the internet whenever they need to use these SaaS software services. For employees working from within their businesses headquarters or for employees who have a dedicated internet connection at home, this is not too much of a problem.
About the book:
This chapter excerpt on How to Accomplish SaaS (download PDF) is taken from the book SaaS -- The Complete Cornerstone Guide to Software as a Service Best Practices: Concepts, Terms, and Techniques for Successfully Planning, Implementing and Managing SaaS Solutions. This book delves into the nuts and bolts of SaaS implementation and migration as well as what CEOs, CIOs, IT managers and technologists should keep in mind when transitioning to SaaS.
However, for employees who work from a mobile device such as a laptop or for employees who are constantly on the move, this is obviously a problem. For example how will an employee who is constantly travelling be able to get any work done and will they have to constantly keep paying for single day internet access in an internet café or in their hotel, in order to get any work done. These costs for single day internet access can very quickly add up and completely negate the cost saving benefits of SaaS.
One way for employees (who are constantly on the move), to receive the benefits of SaaS but at the same time, free themselves from the constraints of constantly requiring an internet connection in order to get any work done, involves using Software plus Service. This is a compromise between having a complete SaaS solution and having a complete traditional on-premises software solution and it gives businesses the best of both worlds.
The security and control of your data is no longer in your own hands
When using SaaS, some if not all of the data of a business will be stored on their SaaS service provider's data centres. Although most businesses will be happy after implementing SaaS, because they no longer have to deal with the management of software applications, most businesses will not like the idea of giving control of their data to someone else.
A business has no idea how their SaaS service provider will secure their data and what backup procedures that their service provider will have in place. The only thing that a business can go by, is the word of their service provider confirming that they will ensure that their clients data will be well looked after. To ensure that their data is well looked after, a business must ensure that their service provider writes down exactly how their clients data will be secured, in their Service Level Agreement contract.
Selecting a well known SaaS vendor or a software service provider with a good reputation, will also give businesses peace of mind. For example a business is much more likely to feel comfortable allowing a massively popular and well known organization like Microsoft or Google to look after their data, rather than some obscure software service provider, without any history. Businesses should always try to find out as much background information about their SaaS service provider that they can, before signing any contracts, to ensure that their SaaS service provider is a good, honest and reliable company
You can no longer control what version of a software application that you are going to use
Although SaaS is great because software applications are constantly up to date, sometimes a business is better of using an older version of a software application but SaaS just does not allow this. For example businesses may wish to use an older version of a software application because this older version is stable or because it is compatible with their existing software applications but with SaaS, businesses only have access to the most current versions of an application.
Again this is good because a business is constantly up to date but the fact that businesses do not have the choice to use older versions of a software application is the negative thing.
The general policy for most businesses when a new software application comes out is to wait a little while before installing this software application so that any bugs or 'teething' problems can be fixed. However, with SaaS, businesses do not have this option and are either stuck with the very latest version of a software application (even though this may have bugs) or no software application at all.
You lose your freedom and are effectively at the control of your software vendor
This is the main problem with SaaS, the fact that businesses lose their freedom and are effectively at the will of their SaaS service provider. For example, with a traditional software application, a business pays for this software application with a single upfront payment. After this, the software application is effectively in their control and they can do whatever they want with it (as long as they are not breaching their software vendor's terms and conditions, such as copyright, licensing, etc).
However, with SaaS software services a business must continuously keep paying their SaaS service provider in order to access the software services that they require. If they accidentally fail to pay their service provider for one month (if they are paying monthly), then they risk losing their software services.
If their SaaS service provider changes its payment rate, then a business has to pay for their software services at this revised payment rate. If a SaaS service provider faces internal problems, then their clients will also be affected by these problems. Clearly SaaS is not perfect and at times it may seem that it is the service provider who benefits the most out SaaS (because they are the ones who are in control and calling all the 'shots').
However, businesses can still benefit from implementing SaaS as long as they choose a reputable SaaS service provider and have a solid Service Level Agreement contract in place. By having a solid Service Level Agreement contract in place, businesses can prevent their SaaS service provider, from abusing their position of power.
Printed with permission from Emereo Pty Ltd. Copyright 2008. SaaS - The Complete Cornerstone Guide to Software as a Service Best Practices: Concepts, Terms, and Techniques for Successfully Planning, Implementing and Managing SaaS Solutions For more information about this title and other similar books, please visit Emereo Pty Ltd.