Software and systems can be useful tools in helping businesses manage their operations and better leverage their resources to achieve a greater level of output. There are different approaches that you can take to harness technology - two such ways are using SAAS (sometimes known as Cloud Apps) or developing your own Custom Software. However each option is quite different, so before making the choice it is important to take time to understand the key differences between the alternate approaches.
The following attempts to provide a brief overview of both alternatives and their respective pro's and con's. While not a complete analysis of each approach, I hope it does provide a good overview; and ultimately starts you thinking about how you can use different technologies in your business.
SAAS (Software as a Service), is sofware that runs on the Internet. Often you will create an account and then subscribe to a service that is provided through a website. SAAS Software includes platforms such as Xero and Squarespace. There are many pro's to using a SAAS development in your business, including:
- Leverage costs over a larger user base;
- You run your business and let the cloud company ensure the software is online;
- Backed by on-going maintenance/development;
- Shorter launch cycle;
- Greater level of resources available; and
- Ability to follow best-practice.
- You leave your data with the company operating the system;
- No guarantee about how long the system will be available;
- System features can change and may cause dysfunction in your business;
- You may need more than one Cloud App to address all your requirements;
- Cloud App may leave you completing more work offline to compensate for the shortcomings of the program;
- Costs of re-development can be more than building your own; and
- You lose competitive advantage/distinction of your business by confirming to "standard practice".
In short, SAAS is a great way to leverage technology for a fraction of the cost. But you are using a generic platform and can often compromise your own procedures to work within the parameters of the software.
Often using SAAS can be a great solution for generic functions in your business, but may not always suit supporting core competencies.
On the other side of the coin, Custom Software (specifically those available online) is just that - software designed and developed to your specific requirements. But as opposed to Cloud Apps, Custom Software is no easy task to implement/evaluate, so it is important to ensure that it is approached cautiously. And if done well, the benefits can be fantastic. Here are some key pro's of the Custom Software approach:
- You get exactly the features you need;
- You own the data;
- You have more control over the system;
- Don't have to comprimise your procedures to fit the software;
- Can replicate best-practice that you have;
- Allows you to leverage off your competitive advantage;
- Allows you to maintain a point of difference; and
- Allows you to build brand through your system.
- The development cycle takes longer;
- Costs can be higher;
- Ongoing maintenance required to ensure that the system continues to function;
- Management of hosting/data becomes your responsibility; and
- Greater dependence on your developer to get the right solution.
If your business is looking to "systematize" unique core processes, then you can't go past Custom Solutions. Capturing and replicating core competencies in a system can lead to amazing results. But there are alot of risks in going down that path - it requires a development program that is well researched and employs people with the competency to deliver.
In the end, both SAAS Solutions and Custom Software present viable solutions. However some cases will suit SAAS more than Custom Software and others will suit Custom Software more. It is important that when considering alternatives, you evaluate alternatives on both sides of the development spectrum and chose the option that best suits the requirements of the system.
As IT Consultants, DCODE can assist you in identifying your system requirements and then determining the best alternatives available. We can help you to evaluate SAAS and/or Custom Software solutions and chose the one that suits you. And with our in-house development team, we can either implement a SAAS or develop and launch your Custom Software solution. If you're interested in rationalising your operations with technology, Contact Us to find out how we can help.
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