Simplifying Software Solutions
USEFUL INFO & TOOLS
Software Project Risk Matrix
Process Discovery Checklist
Software Selection Guide
Demonstration Scripts - Pros & Cons
Business Process (Re)Engineering Matrix
Workflow Processing Checklist
Experience has shown that true automation can streamline business operations significantly. Yet, even though the fact that automated processing can benefit most operations, the significant expense and deployment time required keeps many from acting. At this point, the cost benefits of on-demand software, also known as "web based software", start to become very attractive. The question "Which is better, traditional in-house or web based software?" becomes the big question to answer.
The purpose of this article is help guide you through the steps required to determine if web-based, on-demand software or traditional in-house system implementation is best for your organization.
Each question addresses a different step in the implementation process, and examines the advantages of both SaaS and in-house, server-based including erp/crm, accounting, enterprise content management, manufacturing, purchasing, warehouse management software, and other system solutions. Comparing the answers to these questions will help you determine if a SaaS or in-house solution delivers the best Return-on-Investment (ROI).
Each of the above areas need to be examined very closely if they are needed by your current or planned business processes. If only the first three are needed then an web based system with OCR capabilities is suggested. If the answer to other requirement areas is "YES", please remember that the potential cost and risk of integrating those functions with any software, whether SaaS or in-house, could be very high. Also, please bear in mind that in-house software may require modification to conform to a user interface standard, another source of extra cost and risk.
In many situations, because of project timeframes, competitive pressures, and similar, the need for immediate results is pressing. If your situation fits this description, an web based solution could be of tremendous help. You can often evaluate a SaaS solution for a trial period in which you receive a large percentage of your final configuration. Then, if you subscribe to the web based solution after the trial period ends, the final system is further expedited because your business process is already configured in large part.
A quality SaaS solution is developed to meet the majority of many industry specific needs, involving requirements input and refinement from hundreds of customers. Due to this fact, a quality SaaS solutions deliver comprehensive functionality right out-of-the-box.
You can literally be up-and-running in hours with an web based software solution. Most quality solutions also offer extensive, user-defined configuration capabilities that enable users to modify key aspects of system appearance and functionality. If rapid deployment is a key criteria for your project, a web-based, on-demand system offers undeniable benefits.
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) model eliminates most up-front licensing costs and replaces them with a modest monthly fee. This monthly fee is usually based on the number of users or a similar measure that increases only as a previously agreed-upon criteria increase. The advantages of this approach are many:
Although proprietary customizations enhance the usability of the software, the more extensive customizations in many cases cannot be automatically migrated to the next version of the underlying software. As a result, when the package is upgraded, your firm will faces one of two choices, both bad. Either upgrade the application at high cost and experience delay as the new features are implemented, or to continue using the older version of the software without benefit of the upgrade until it is no longer supported by it's vendor.
SaaS, i.e., web based software can eliminate these obstacles and frustration because upgrades are applied at the data center and available to all users immediately, with no installation or delay. In addition, since there is no software to install at each client site, software upgrades may be made more frequently.
However, even thought SaaS (web-based) solutions tend to be more expandable, some specialized requirements may require specialized functionality that a SaaS application cannot provide, even with integration and configuration. To understand which side of this line on which your application falls, we suggest the following process:
A. Define on paper what you want to accomplish with the new system. This includes the other systems, facilities, groups and companies that will interact with the proposed application.
B. Prepare a flowchart, (a drawing) of the business process workflow, detailing what happens at each step.
C. Focus on identifying the business processes you need to improve, not the technical system details.
D. Share the information collected in A, B, and C above with the vendors you are evaluating. You can conduct this initial research through a formal Request for Proposal or an informal email.
E. Request a demonstration of the SaaS system as it applies to your requirements.
F. Carefully evaluate the vendor's ability to meet those requirements.
When this evaluation is complete you will have a much clearer idea of how much functionality an on-premise and SaaS, i.e., web-based software solution can provide. In the end, which type of software function delivery method you select is a tradeoff between the benefit of an in-house, customized solution and the cost, deployment, and evolutionary benefits of a web based software system.